Two years ago, it seemed as if the milk at the Statz Bros. Inc. dairy farm outside Marshall flowed a little more plentifully than usual.
Or at least that’s what farm co-owner Joe Statz recalled about the afterglow of some 20,000 country music fans pouring onto the farm on a September evening to attend a Luke Bryan concert, the first stop of the country superstar’s 2019 Farm Tour.
The cows “might have given us a little more milk that night,” Statz said with a laugh.
This Thursday — two years and a pandemic later — the semi-trailer trucks and buses filled with touring equipment are expected to be back for the 2021 version of Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour.
“Obviously everything went well the first time — otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it again,” Statz said. “Luke Bryan’s crew does a nice job. They have a reputation to hold, so they want to leave here and leave you happy.”
The mega-star Bryan — coming off a planned performance last week at Milwaukee’s Summerfest — is scheduled to take the stage in a large field at the farm Thursday night before an open-air audience, just a stone’s throw from cow barns, milking stations and milk trucks. Opening acts include Dylan Scott, Whitney Duncan, The Peach Pickers and DJ Rock.
Tickets for the 6 p.m. show are $56 online at www.lukebryan.com/tour. Remaining tickets will be sold at the gate for $70.
While 20,000 tickets for Bryan’s 2019 concert at the farm sold out in 30 hours, tickets are still expected to be available the day of the show, said Amanda Jolma, assistant to the managers for Statz Bros. Inc.
Concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic have likely slowed ticket sales, she said.
“With it being an outdoor concert, it gives the people ability to space themselves out, so there aren’t any regulations at this moment” beyond Dane County public health guidance, she wrote in an email Thursday.
Still, Jolma cautioned at press time, “the county or the concert management team may implement regulations within the next few days, if they feel the need to.”
In 2020, Bryan’s team had planned to return to the Marshall farm for another show, but the singer’s tour was put on hold that year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First ‘Album of the Decade’
One of the world’s best-selling music artists, Bryan has 27 No. 1 country hit singles to his name, including the recent “Wave.” In 2013, he was named Entertainer of the Year by both the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association. Bryan’s 2013 album “Crash My Party” won the Academy of Country Music’s first “Album of the Decade” award in 2019.
Bryan also has a regular TV presence as one of three judges, along with Katie Perry and Lionel Richie, on ABC’s “American Idol.”
The son of a Georgia peanut farmer, Bryan also plans September stops in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan on his 2021 Farm Tour.
Bryan’s management team first got connected with the Statz Farm through the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Jolma said.
When the farm was selected as a venue for Bryan’s tour in 2019, “we were all pretty excited,” she said “It was quite an honor.”
The tour comes as a complete package, with the crew arranging everything from the stage and lighting equipment to vendors. The morning after the concert, the last truck doesn’t pull out until Statz signs the contract stating that the tour has completely cleaned up the property.
In the family since 1966, the Statz Bros. farm is now run by Joe Statz, his two cousins Troy and Wes, and his sons Zach and Austin. The farm milks 4,700 cows on more than 9,000 acres of land and has 100 employees. Statz Bros. is compensated by the Luke Bryan tour “enough to make it worth our while,” said Statz, who declined to say what the farm is paid to host the event.
The real value is “the exposure,” said Jolma. “It gets a lot of people who’ve never been to a farm out to a farm.” The Bryan tour also helps fund youth scholarships in agriculture.
The stage is placed atop the crest of a small hill on the “home” farm property at 5875 County Hwy VV. Concertgoers park in a vast cornfield — 7,000 cars in all for the 2019 concert, Jolma said.
Jolma recommends coming early instead of arriving just before the show to avoid traffic congestion. Parking costs $5 online with the purchase of tickets, or $20 day of show.
The farm is located between Interstate 94 and U.S. Highway 151. That location near major highways made the venue appealing to Bryan’s tour organizers, Statz said.
For the 2019 show, he and his sons sat by the side of the road in lawn chairs and greeted concertgoers as they drove in. Also that year, the farm management team was invited on stage to be acknowledged as the hosts for Bryan’s Wisconsin appearance.
That probably won’t happen this year because of COVID-related restrictions on who can go backstage, Statz said. But he still relishes the memory.
“That will go on in my memory forever,” he said. “Standing on stage — and seeing 20,000 people out there.”