July 9, 2019 8:10 pm
Updated: July 10, 2019 7:23 am

Preparations underway at Country Thunder in Craven, Sask. as grounds now open

WATCH: The gates at Country Thunder officially opened Tuesday as dozens of campers set up their unique accommodations, embracing the calm before the thunder.

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Preparations are well underway for the largest country music festival in Saskatchewan, as approximately 20,000 people are expected to attend Country Thunder in Craven, Sask., this week.

On Tuesday, dozens of campers were busy setting up their unique accommodations. Darin Offen, who has a seven-lot site and has been attending the festival for 33 years, was one of them.

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“I come out here for four or five days; it’s just a beautiful place to be,” Offen said. “It’s nice to be almost first on site. It’s kind of relaxed and we get our trailer set up.”

READ MORE: Same party different name: Craven Country Jamboree rebrands

Another familiar camping spot is Las Craven, where the party is already underway — because after all, as the country music song goes, it’s five o’clock somewhere.

“It’s a fun, enjoyable time,” said the campsite’s creator, Jason Stich. “Over the years we’ve added the Las Craven sign, a dance floor, a covered tent. We’re trying to create a fun, relaxed atmosphere and just enjoy ourselves — everybody is welcome.”

WATCH: (August 18, 2018) Alberta country music singer set to hit Country Thunder stage

Down at the main stage, it’s a production three days in the making. Hundreds of workers are making sure everything is ready when performers hit the stage starting Thursday.

“It’s probably the most efficient ant hill you’ll ever see and these guys are the best in the business,” said director of marketing and media relations Gerry Krochak.

This year, festival-goers will get a rare opportunity to see Chris Stapleton, one of the hottest stars in country music.

“We’ve had pretty much everyone, and looking through the history of the Craven Valley… everyone’s played here from George Jones, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Garth Brooks, and we think Chris Stapleton is going to add to that legacy,” Krochak said.

READ MORE: RCMP stop 270 vehicles, lay 66 charges to start Country Thunder

“This is the artist people have been asking for. He’s never been here before and this is one of two Canadian shows and his only western Canadian show of 2019.”

Other new activities this year include a Vegas-style beach party and volleyball tournament and $10,000 in prizes up for grabs. There is also a slingshot ride, which has been a huge hit at the festivals in the United States.

Country Thunder 2019 kicks off on Thursday and wraps up Sunday.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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