Walking through the campgrounds of the Country Stampede on Thursday afternoon, festival-goers were getting settled in for a three-day weekend filled with country music, drinking and good times.
But in the midst of getting prepared to sing until they can't speak, attendees heard Stampede officials announce Topeka's Heartland Motorsports Park as the new home for the annual music event, which will get the name of Heartland Stampede next year.
The announcement wasn't well received by some in the crowd, prompting a shout of "move it back to Manhattan."
Bethany Neufeld, of Newton, said work needs to be done on roads at HMP.
"It's hard to get the campers in. And in general camping, it's just a mud pit," Neufeld said. "When it's in Manhattan, we don't have to worry about that. There's gravel. Yes, it gets flooded, but there's more area."
Despite the concerns, Neufeld said, "we will make do anywhere."
Carrie Cummings, a Kansas State University alumna from Topeka, said HMP isn't any worse, just different.
Colton Calmus, a Kansas State University alumnus from Texas, said he liked having the Stampede in Manhattan because he could go back and visit friends.
"I think we would be more inclined to keep coming if it was still in Manhattan instead of Topeka," Calmus said. "But like I said, I think we will still probably come at some point."
Kristin Sattler and Kaity Hoefer, of Lincoln, Neb., expressed their dislike for the move to Topeka and how much they enjoyed having the event in Manhattan.
"I have gone for six years, and it's just way too much," Sattler said. "There's no pavement, there's no trees. It's not as close knit. You kind of have to stay in your vicinity — otherwise you have to walk miles. It's just different."
Hoefer said the venue change is "crappy because it's a tradition to go to Manhattan and go to Country Stampede."
Sattler and Hoefer said they were considering finding a different country music festival to attend next year.
Brian Boltz and Michael Hilging, of Omaha, Neb., said they prefer Manhattan but will probably come back next year.
"It's still the event, but it kind of sucks because you have to figure everything out," Hilging said.
Counstry Stampede president Wayne Rouse said increases in talent costs make it unfeasible to keep the event in Manhattan.