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Working vacation is annual fun for many WE Fest employees

One 18-year-old even celebrated her birthday at the country music festival

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Angelina Pederson and her mother Sara joined the WE Fest workforce for the first time this year. It was Angelina's long-time dream to work the event. To celebrate her 18th birthday on Friday, Aug. 5, the Detroit Lakes residents worked together near the bowl entrance by the walk of fame.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Angelina Pederson has been waiting a lifetime to work at WE Fest. This year, her dream came true as the 18-year-old celebrated her birthday on Friday, Aug. 5. Now, rumor has it, the fun may lead to an even more memorable birthday weekend.

The 2022 Detroit Lakes High School graduate said when some of the festival's management learned that it was her birthday, they pulled strings and invited her to go backstage Friday, before headliner Miranda Lambert performed. The singer has been one of Pederson's favorites since she took the country music scene by storm in the early 2000s.

Whether the backstage invite comes to fruition or not, Pederson was thankful that she and her mother, Sara Pederson, were hired to work WE Fest. She has heard many stories of past employees having fun working the country festival. Other big draws to work the event included the competitive pay and perk of concert tickets and camping options in the employee campground.

“I love the music,” Angelina said. “I love the atmosphere.”

Mom Sara joined the WE Fest workforce because she wanted to spend time with her daughter, who is heading to college in the fall. While she had heard about WE Fest, this was the first time she attended the three-day concert. Having the first day under her belt, she was surprised at how some public perceptions of the event have not matched her experience.

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Many WE Fest employees return every year to work the festival and catch up with co-workers. One tight-knit group included (from left) Bobby Berdt of New York Mills, Valerie and Norm Nelson of Alexandria, Charlie Miller of Perham, (back) Robert Wieers of Fargo (who joined the team in his first year) and Jaren Larson, Wahpeton.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“It’s not at all what I heard it would be from some people,” Sara said. “Everyone we work with wants to make every concert goer's experience one they won’t forget. And, the people going to the shows are very friendly and fun.”

In fact, the Pedersons are considering making the festival an annual mother-daughter work event. The duo would be joining a long-standing tradition at WE Fest. Kevin Savchuk of Willmar, Minnesota, made the event his annual “working vacation” 21 years ago. He has been a staple, directing VIP and vendor parking.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to meet people coming to the concerts. And, I love the people I work with.”

Having the same crew and welcoming newcomers to the "family" simply adds to the fun of being part of the event that draws visitors from all over the country, he said.

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Kevin Savchuk of Willmar, Minn., has worked at WE Fest for 21 years and plans to continue the tradition for years to come.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Bobby Berdt is the police chief of New York Mills, but during WE Fest he is working for the country festival. He is in his 13th year working at WE Fest, with his first job being security inside the concert bowl. Berdt recently moved from security to being the usher manager.

While he has enjoyed meeting a new crew of future friends, he has made time to check in with his former group. If he didn’t, he said, it would be like going to a family reunion and not greeting one’s closest relatives.

“All the (work) areas have that atmosphere of a family bond,” he said. “It really is about fellowship with the people who come back year-to-year. I plan to keep doing this for years to come.”

Charlie Miller of Perham, Minnesota, reiterated Berdt’s sentiments about the working crew being a family. He also enjoys the opportunity to make sure concert goers have a fun and safe time.

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Valerie and Norm Nelson added that concert-goers' safety is a high priority for everyone. They often direct campers to the right path to get to their campground, as the Soo Pass Ranch has 400 acres.

“I’ve actually been working here for 16 years,” Valerie Nelson said, adding her husband started six years ago when they came to the concert as a second-honeymoon attempt. “During our actual planned honeymoon our dog had puppies, so we had to cancel that trip.”

The two worked and then enjoyed time holding hands and swaying to the music of country legends taking the stage. Since, they have returned each year because the experience was “just fun.”

Related Topics: WE FEST
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