City Lights to Country Roads

Country Thunder girls

country thunder2While sometimes it’s so invigorating to explore every crevice of a big city–be it through restaurants, concerts, baseball games or museums–it can be a breath of fresh air to escape to the back roads and fields that are awaiting you a measly hour drive out of the city. Students at ICO come from a variety of places, not all metropolitan areas. I myself come from one of Chicago’s Northwest suburbs, where en route to my high school I passed cornfields and picturesque farms, complete with grazing cows. Now, four years later, I don’t make my way out there quite as often, and I find my small-town ties being strained as the hustle and bustle of working 40 hours a week has enveloped my life.

Luckily, when I find myself getting a little tightly wound, I feel fortunate enough to be able to take to those country roads with good friends and great music. When I think of Chicago, country music is definitely not the first genre of music that comes to mind. But I do associate the music with feelings of home, family, and breezy good times. So a few weeks ago my friends and I took an hour drive up to Twin Lakes, Wis., where we attended the Country Thunder music festival.

Country Thunder bootsThe fest allows you to escape reality for four days and enter a world filled with people shod in cowboy boots, American flag bandanas tied around their necks, as they click their heels together while listening to some of the nation’s best country artists sing their hearts out. Tickets were $100 for a four-day pass, and many people opted to reserve a campsite to rest their head as they dreamt of the next day’s activities.

Even if you aren’t a die hard country music fan (which I must admit, I’m not), it’s a fun summer activity. The bands usually start playing around 4 p.m., which may make you wonder, “What do people do all day until the concert gets started?” During those hot morning and afternoon hours, everyone takes to the beach at Lake Elizabeth (right next to the stages) and enjoys a refreshing plunge in the crystal clear waters. People can also rent boats or Jet Skis–it can actually be pretty cost-effective when a group of friends split the expense. I was fortunate because one of my best friends has a house right on the lake, where we enjoyed our days. We made our way to the each night’s concert to hear headliners like Jake Owen, Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes and Little Big Town.

Even when you live in a fast-paced city, small town life is closer than you may have thought. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the city lights and head down a country road.


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