| There was a little bit of blood, quite a lot more sweat, and truckloads of beer Saturday in Guthrie Center for the fourth edition of Guthrie's River Ruckus.
Even the weather cooperated as temperatures, which had spent the past week above the 100° mark, fell to just 85°.
Although there were people of all ages at the concert, the event was largely dominated by the under 30 crowd, who clearly knew the lyrics to every song headliner Eric Church sang, fist pumping as they crooned along with the country music icon.
Tuesday afternoon, a weary eyed Grant Sheeder, the local concert promoter, sat down with the Times for an interview.
According to Sheeder, the official tally of tickets sold fell just short of 20,000. However, an estimate by law enforcement put another 5,000 people in the campgrounds during the concert for a grand total near 25,000.
When asked about the feedback he has received, Sheeder stated it has been mostly positive.
"I've had people from Nashville calling saying they can't believe we pulled this off in Guthrie Center," said Sheeder. "This gives me solid footing for future events.
"Overall I was pleased with how things went. Certainly there are things we could have done differently and better, but when you go from 3,800 people last year to 25,000 people this year, it's an enormous change. How do you know before you see it?"
Sheeder listed a number of items on his improvement list: kybos, dumpsters, vendor placement during the concert, and much more. He also stated he plans to revamp the current Friday night format.
"Now that we've seen 25,000 people, we can make numerous improvements for next year," Sheeder concluded.
As Sheeder noted, certainly everything didn't run perfectly. However, comments from concert-goers were largely positive, with perhaps the most frequent one being: Who will be the headliner next year?
Many businesses reaped major profits as a result of the influx of 25,000 cash carrying people in town.
Dollar General reported a big upturn in business Friday from campers coming to town. Beer, coolers, and baseball hats topped their list of best sellers.
Sparky's manager Melissa DeBoer reported Saturday as being over twice as busy as their busiest day ever.
"It was quite insane...a great day for us. We were nonstop until 4:00 a.m. We had no problems from the people; they were great. I personally thought it was great for our community, it was awesome for me personally, and it was certainly good for Sparky's."
Don Reinhart, owner of Hometown Foods, stated, "This was the biggest week ever for my store. The people were all very nice. I'm definitely ready to do it again next year."
There were also big winners for entrepreneurs willing to take their business to the crowd. Vendors at the Ruckus, although slow Friday night, could not serve food and beverages fast enough inside Saturday.
Bob Van Roekel of Bob's Pit Stop Barbecue stated sales were "...very good. We hope to be back for #5!"
Bob Secoy of Drive Away Diner recalled, "Friday could have been better, but Saturday went very well."
Outside the concert area at the Lions Club booth, sales Saturday before the event were sluggish. Lions Club vice president Eric Reinhart reasoned, "It's all about location, location, location. We just weren't in the traffic flow area." However, at midnight when the concert let out, Roger Underwood, who was manning the grill, stated, "I was throwing 20 hamburgers on at a time, and they were selling as fast as I could cook them."
The Code Blue Band, playing adjacent to the Lions' booth, hosted a large crowd of dancing patrons after midnight, and had to cut off music at 1:30 a.m. to get dancers to finally leave. Singer Bob Paterson summed it up saying, "The people were great and we had a blast."
Parking was also a big money-maker for two local organizations. The Chamber of Commerce and the Guthrie County Arts Council both spent Saturday afternoon parking vehicles major as fund raisers.
Numerous other organizations, including 4-H clubs and the GCHS wrestling team, also profited from tear down and cleanup of the gigantic mess left behind by Ruckus-goers.
Unfortunately for some downtown businesses, such as Prime Time Restaurant, concert-goers bypassed them en route to the fairgrounds.
"I think our regular customers stayed away because they thought we would be crowded, and when the out-of-towners bypassed us, it turned into a slow weekend," commented Sherry Rhoades.
Guthrie Center Police Chief Mike Herbert, in charge of law enforcement for the entire event, faced the brunt of Ruckus problems. He coordinated a force of 24 Iowa State troopers, 11 JAAG (Juvenile Alcohol Awareness Group) officers, 40 officers from various counties and communities, and 11 reserve deputies.
Grand total: 86 officers.
"Even at that we were outnumbered," recalled Herbert Tuesday morning.
He stated excessive alcohol was far and away the weekend's main problem. Due to the number of officers involved, Herbert did not have an exact count, but relayed the following general arrest statistics from the weekend.
Minors in possession topped the list with a confirmed 89 and an estimated 150 total (when all officers complete reporting).
Second, according to Herbert, was public intoxication arrests. Third was fighting.
There were also a couple of minor fender benders and a handful of people cited for trespassing when they were kicked out of the fairgrounds, but later returned.
According to Chief Deputy Jeremy Bennett, there were approximately 10 OWI's issued.
There was one serious alleged incident during the weekend: the sexual assault of a 30-year-old female inside the concert arena while Saturday's concert was in progress. As of press time, an official incident report had not been released.
Herbert concluded by stating he was skeptical about having as large a crowd next year, whereas Guthrie County Sheriff Marty Arganbright was more upbeat.
"Certainly there were some incidents, but for a crowd of 25,000 people, we had very few serious incidents," offered Arganbright. "I think it was a success, largely due to some solid prior planning. We proved we can handle this many people in the future."
Herbert added, "We were very fortunate to have the assistance of all the other law enforcement agencies."
Arganbright especially pointed to the expertise of the state patrol, who are more accustomed to handling large events.
"I'm not sure we could have pulled this off without their help."
©Guthrie Center Times 2013