071819_con_rockfest

Rock Fest near Cadott is in its 26th year. Headliners for this year, which are scheduled for 11 p.m., are Evanescence tonight, Five Finger Death Punch on Friday and Rob Zombie on Saturday.

One of the Midwest’s largest music festivals now has one of the Midwest’s largest social media fan groups.

Rock Fest is an annual hard rock/metal music festival that takes place every July in Cadott. The festival has featured large national acts such as Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Shinedown, Rob Zombie and many more over its 25-plus year history. And while the bands keep fans coming back every July, a social media group is keeping them connected the other 361 days of the year.

Rock Fest Friends of Fests is a private Facebook fan group dedicated to music news, networking and keeping fans of Rock Fest connected outside of the festival grounds. The page has been operating since 2012, and currently has a membership of over 4,700 rock fans.

Rock Fest Friends of Fests founder Jim Nichols said he founded the page after deleting a previous version of the group from Yahoo, and said it is a great tool for keeping people connected as well keeping music fans in the know about current music news.

“I think keeping people connected is a good thing, but it’s also great for mass information,” Nichols said. “People will post news throughout the year, and when people make it out to the grounds they’ll post how the weather is and many other things. You can pretty much keep up with most current things on the page.”

Fan page co-owner Heather Lee said she first heard about Rock Fest in 2014 (as she lives nine hours away from the festival grounds) and said the page has allowed her to share in the love of hard rock music for the first time outside of the shows themselves.

“The only time I got to talk about music was when I was at shows,” Lee said. “Between my family and friends, nobody really had the love for it that I do. So, for me getting to go to a space where people felt the same about music that I did was pretty cool.”

Fans post consistently throughout the day, posting articles about upcoming records, drama within the rock scene, interesting videos and news about Rock Fest itself. And while the group is an invite-only location, Nichols said a few troublesome users have come across the group in the past.

“We’ve had scammers, abusive scalpers and people come on the page who nobody knows,” Nichols said. “They try to scam people, break the rules or try and tear people to pieces. We’ve had to throw at least 20 or 30 people out. But we are going in the right direction and we’ve got a lot of seasoned veterans who help make the page great.”

The page has grown exponentially over its history, for example when Lee joined the group in 2014 there were only about 1,200 members of the page. Now with a membership nearing 5,000 Lee said the vision for the group is to try and keep it a wholesome place where rock fans can get together and feel at home despite the continually growing size and popularity of the group.

“We want to continue to make it a place people want to go and know they’re not going to be slammed or made to feel bad,” Lee said. “We want them to be able to speak out and know people are hearing them and appreciating them. That’s our goal, and it gets harder and harder the more people you bring in, but our goal is to keep control of it and keep it a fun safe place for people to be.”

Rock Fest 2019 kicked off Wednesday night for 3-day ticket holders and this afternoon the first full day of music will begin. For more information and tickets you can visit rock-fest.com.