OFFSTAGE: Country Music, Wiener Schnitzel and Wine Coolers at Summerfest

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Someone please tell me why I haven’t been to Summerfest in eight years. Seriously, that was way too long of a hiatus. The last time I made the journey up to Milwaukee’s lakefront for the world’s largest music festival was in 2005 to see Tim McGraw and his show opener, Keith Urban. On Friday (July 5), I finally went back — again to see Tim McGraw. And everything I loved about Summerfest in 2005 was still there, pretty much right where I’d left it. There’s something so comforting about that. The wiener schnitzel sandwiches, the bratwursts, the beer-battered cheese curds and the refreshing (and cheap) wine coolers served over ice were all still there, like permanent fixtures on the festival grounds. It was like I’d never left. This year’s festival — 11 stages filled with live music for 11 days — had so much free country music, I wish I’d been able to stay for it all. Kip Moore, Courtyard Hounds, Phil Vassar, Jana Kramer, LeAnn Rimes, Craig Morgan and The Mavericks all played full sets that were free with the price of admission ($17 per day). And on the big amphitheater stage where I saw McGraw, Brantley Gilbert and Love and Theft, country acts like Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan had played there this year, too. The minute Summerfest 2013 was over on Sunday (July 7) night, the countdown to Summerfest 2014 began on the festival’s website. It has the days, hours, minutes and seconds until next summer’s show starts. And this time, I’ll be counting down right along with them.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.