Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting the Most Out of CUSA

Alex Hummel's editorial in yesterday's NW brings up a fairly glaring inadequacy with the current Country USA situation, i.e. no shuttle buses to ferry concert goers to and from parts of town. I don't know who would be responsible for arranging something like this in the future, but it should be given at the very least a trial run. One would sort of expect that a consortium of owners at the Prime Outlets would chip in to get some kind of shuttle service rolling given the relatively close proximity to the new concert grounds. Distance shouldn't be an issue, though. Business owners downtown should think about doing the same.

The only real obstacle I can foresee in getting shuttle service on the road would be the organizers of Country USA. If you go to the official website and take a peek at all of the camping restrictions you'll quickly pick up on the fact that the promoters are trying their damnedest to keep patrons on the grounds for as long as humanly possible so that they can buy things like (very expensive) food, refreshments, and souvenirs. I can't argue with that policy -- they have just as much a right to make a buck as anyone else.

So if a shuttle service can't be set up in the future here's an impractical solution to the dilemma of better integrating the city of Oshkosh with Country USA: more music.

If Country USA is a 5 day event that starts on a Wednesday, why doesn't the city of Oshkosh host a two evening "pre-game" on the Monday and Tuesday nights before the concert? It could be called the Country USA Tailgate or whatever. The city could line up two nights worth of big name acts for Monday and Tuesday night shows at the Leach. Fans going to the festival could just take the whole week off (if they wanted) and spend at least one day -- and hopefully some of their disposable income -- in Oshkosh before setting up base camp at the new camp grounds. Once they get a little familiarity with the city's layout they'll be more inclined to go off the grounds for a few hours in the afternoon during a lull in the music to get lunch at a restaurant or a beer at watering hole or whathaveyou.

Don't get me wrong -- the shuttle service should be an essential part of the plan for the future, but it might not be a bad idea to take a page out of the Country USA promoters play book and try to keep concert goers in the city limits for as long as possible.

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