Of those arrested, 100 were reportedly underage drinkers. Most of the others were picked up for driving while intoxicated, Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Mike Hanson said.
More than 150 cases of beer were confiscated during the weekend at the Soo Pass Ranch, where the show is held, he said. The ranch’s concert grounds include a natural amphitheatre that seats up to 50,000 people. Attendance averaged about 43,000 per day, with a high of more than 47,800 on the second day.
New no-nonsense rules for festival-goers, particularly young ones, may have been the reason so many minors got busted. Alcohol consumption by minors was strictly forbidden anywhere on the site – including in the campgrounds – and wristbands were distributed only to those who had valid photo ID, proving they were old enough to drink.
“There is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking at WE Fest,” festival president Jeff Krueger told Pollstar. “But – for most people – unless they’re abusing a second chance, causing trouble or are extremely inebriated, they’ll just get their wristband cut off so they can’t drink anymore.”
Campgrounds at the festival site are “age-designated campgrounds,” according to Krueger, with certain areas specifically recommended for those 30 and older, 25-30 years, and 24 years and younger. The youngest fans were apparently relegated to campsites on the eastern edge of the festival site.
WE Fest added a new hurdle this year that affected the young country fans. Festival organizers announced “an important change in the pricing structure of all the campgrounds on the east side of the concert site. … Everyone in these campgrounds must purchase a camping wristband, along with a three-day ticket. This prevents people who are not registered from entering the campground,” according to the WE Fest Web site.
“Mixing old and young is like mixing oil and water,” Krueger told the Detroit Lake News. “People want to have the kind of fun they want to have. … It’s really worked well. The campers decide themselves where they want to be.”
Wherever they were, concert-goers were likely to run into the law. The State Patrol brought in troopers from all over Minnesota to beef up their ranks for the event and organizers hired a private security firm to cover the venue in addition to traditional horse patrols.