Countdown commences for Country Thunder music festival in Craven, Sask.

The calm before the storm at the Country Thunder gates. Troy Charles / Global News

The countdown is officially on in Saskatchewan.

For the first time since 2019, the iconic Country Thunder music festival will be returning to prairie soil in Craven, Sask.

The stages are being erected and they might not look like much now, but in a matter of days they will be home to some of the biggest artists country music has to offer.

Country Thunder is coming back with a bang with headliners like Blake Shelton and Morgan Wallen.

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A few days out, around 100 staff are already on site getting the festival grounds in order for when the gates open.

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Regina-born Kim Blevins is the festival’s general manager. She says its been a tough few years for the industry but her team is raring and ready to go.

“Its taken a while to get the rust out but it’s really special to come back here. We weren’t able to come home for a couple of years and now we’re able to be here at home where it all started,” said Blevins.

Blevins says ticket sales have been brisk for the return of the longest single running music festival in North America.

She says sales have been aided by a new partnership with Costco that made tickets available at the wholesale giant.

However, Belvins didn’t mince words when it came to the struggles of throwing a festival in todays climate.

“It’s really tough this year everywhere. From labour costs to fuel costs, trucking costs, equipment shortages; we’ve had a heck of a time getting ATVs and side by sides. The list goes on and on,” said the Country Thunder GM.

Conditions in Craven are also shaping up to be a scorcher, with expected temperatures in the low to mid 30s for the duration of the festival.

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Attendees are reminded to wear a hat and sunscreen and of course stay on top of hydration.

While it’s important to keep the water flowing, there will also be other liquids flowing and for the first time in the festivals history all the liquor will be provided by a local company courtesy of Last Mountain Distillery.

Click to play video: 'Western wear trends in time for Country Thunder'
Western wear trends in time for Country Thunder

Providing all of the event’s vodka, rum, whiskey, gin as well as 30,000 coolers has been a long time coming for Meredith Schmidt and her distillery just down the road in Lumsden.

“We used to be so little and we thought there’s not even a chance we would try something like this. Like it would be our entire year’s worth of production for that one weekend. But now we’re finally in a place where we can do it and it’s really exciting to be here,” Schmidt said

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Country Thunder runs from July 14-17th and weekend and single day tickets are still available.

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