When thousands of people descend in RVs and campers on an open field in central Arizona for a four-day music and drinking festival, you’re bound to see some weird stuff. And the first day of Country Thunder Arizona did not disappoint.
Day 1: Girl/grill power
Suzy Shelstad is the first-ever female grillmaster in the 23-year history of Johnsonville’s the Big Taste Grill. The eatery is on a 53,000-pound semi-turned-grill that is the largest touring grill in the world.
“I love working the grill a lot,” Shelstad said. “I get to meet a lot of people, and we tour for eight months coast-to-coast.”
Not too crazy at Crazy Coyote Campground – yet
It’s Day 1 at Country Thunder Arizona, and things are getting ramped up in the campgrounds. Tricked-out RVs and trucks bearing American flags, blasting country music, are pulling in to get set up. Many people arrived Wednesday to get settled in. Folks are out grilling, playing drinking games and meeting their neighbors.
Crazy Coyote Campground, known for its wild antics and party hard style, is slowly starting to turn things up on this dry, 89-degree dusty day in Florence. Songs by Rebel Son, Casey Donahew Band and even Nelly were blasting from speakers.
America, we’re sorry
Bill Haden, 24, of Phoenix, shows off his, uh, invention: a beer bong made out of a female mannequin torso. Instead of a head, there’s the funnel. And the beer comes out exactly where you would expect. He call aptly calls his beer bong “Miss America.”
Welcome, here’s a shot
Mike Yslaba spreads the love with his homemade shot ski, standing near the main walkway of Crazy Coyote, inviting anyone to come enjoy a little Fireball whiskey. He said “making new friends is the point of being here” at Country Thunder. He used an old ski and painted it with a camouflage pattern, attaching wooden letters reading “Country Thunder” on the back.
Showing their pride
Casey Moser, 25, of Fresno (left) and Laura Smith, 22, from Phoenix, dressed the part to show their patriotism for Country Thunder. “This is my sixth year coming try to shake it up every year (with my outfit), otherwise it gets dull.” He attached “Rudy,” the toy stick horse, to this outfit this year. Smith said the horse is “amazing at flip-cup.” This is Smith’s first year and she said so far” everything is great, but it’s a little hot.”
Ride the bull
A group called “I Heart This Camp” has more than 60 residents and features a 360-degree seesaw, massive dance floor, wagon grill, drinking Jenga and new this year, a bull. The bull was built by Chris Buhr, who created it from a barrel, carpet, rawhide, springs and ball bearing. So far, no one has successfully ridden it for more than a few seconds.
The all-important selfie
Jesse Bablove, 31, from Orange County, snaps a photo for some ladies. He’s riding the campgrounds on his bike fixed with an umbrella, cup holders and pool noodles attached to the handlebars. “Safety first with the noodles, so we don’t drown,” Bablove said. “Last year it rained, so we want to be prepared.”
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