words_ ashley brozic
Miami- a Mecca for confederate flag waving, bourbon-sipping, pickup truck-driving Rednecks. Sound a little implausible?
Well, that’s because it is. But looking at the crowd at C.B. Smith Park this past Sunday, just two exits north from the 305-border line, one would have thought very differently. Enter the KISS Country Chili Cook Off, a daylong country music festival that united more than 25,000 loyal country music fans and western wannabes.
Although the Concert began around 10 A.M., concert goers began tailgating well before, some even as early as 1 in the morning. Those who wanted the full Cook Off experience came prepared with their own grills, fully-stocked bars, beer pong tables and oversized speakers blasting country hits in preparation for the long day ahead.
The parking lot was filled to the brim with pickups outfitted in confederate flags and big wheels. There was even one that drove around offering “free shots for chicks.”
Guests began claiming their square foot of grass the minute the Cook Off gates opened, and they weren’t eager to share either.
“The redneck lady in front of me while we were watching Luke Bryan was threatening people walking in front of her because she ‘had been there since 8am’. It’s a miracle she didn’t yell at me. She looked like she could kill me if she wanted to,” said Senior Melisa Ramos. Some concertgoers resorted to perching themselves on tree branches to catch a glimpse of the stage.
Attire at the event would have caused the editors of Vogue to gasp in horror, but trendsetters were a minority here. What would have been a costume for some was normal daywear for the masses. Few shied away from donning cowboy boots, shredded denim and more renditions of plaid than one could physically count.
The actual Chili contest took a backseat to the concert, food, alcohol and crowd excitement, especially when Zac Brown Band appeared around 4 P.M. It was the perfect way to end a great day.
“Although waking up at 4:30 a.m. to get to there wasn’t the greatest, the whole day was such an amazing experience and so much fun. I’ll never miss another Chili Cook Off!” said junior Shannon Nurse.
Whether a tried and true country fan, or one who’s just mounted the saddle, the Chili Cook Off was a great reminder of what makes up the heart of America: patriotism, freedom and lots of “Chicken Fried.”