Cheers everyone! I celebrated six years camping in media, car bartending in a blinding rain storm (note: you’re not allowed to even move your car in Boots camping, so please chill) and enjoyed the music of new and old country artists entertaining a crowd of over 35,000.

After five years of living in the photo pit and returning back to the media console, I decided to celebrate my sixth (and possibly last) year at Boots and Hearts as an attendee.  I spent my time eating poutine and food truck delicacies, taking a shot of Jack Daniel’s Cooler at their booth, high fiving the drunk kid in the middle of the field who is handing them out generously, and dancing and singing with general and VIP attendees when the sun goes down.  As well, I acknowledged my fellow dedicated photographers when I saw them and asked them how the set was.

Yes, I put that camera down, only shared the people moments on social, and just lived in the moment.  As much as I’d love to feel guilty that I didn’t follow suit as previous years, I don’t.  I dedicated five years of my time in the pit and this was the best Boots and Hearts ever! I highly recommend that all media give it a try at least once as one can’t accurately articulate the heart of the festival without being immersed in it.

If you ventured here to see my photos, I’m sorry.  However,  I’ve met a few friends along the way who are amazing shooters and they were at Boots this weekend.  Check out Dwight Jr. Edwards and Soundcheck Entertainment.

A Compilation of Amazing Artists at Boots and Hearts Through The Years

(If you want a song added, throw me an email.)

Here are some tips and things to do if you’re considering Boots and Hearts next year.

So since I seriously experienced Boots and Hearts this year, I have so much advice and suggestions to pass on to you!

  1. The Struggle is Real
    Arrive early and plant your tent or RV as close to the concert entryway as possible.   Expect to walk and walk hard.
  2. Camping in a Tent is Brutal
    Consider not returning to work Monday (even Tuesday if you can do it).  Four nights in a tent, using a porta potty, and showering in limited space is absolutely out of the daily realm.  Top that with a copious amount of walking, lots of cocktails, the hot sun and torrential downpours, and you’ve got yourself a personal sh**show by the time you get back to the comfort of your own bed.
  3. Expect Intoxicated People
    This is a country music festival, not a church retreat.  There is no slicing or dicing it, there is bound to be some drunk and disorderly conduct, young and old.  (I never saw any disorderly for the record) Appreciate that young guy who is generously handing out high fives in the field rather than eye rolling and making fun of other people.  We complain so often that the younger generation has their heads bent looking at their phone.  Appreciate that they are living in the moment and suck it up.  We were all that age before.
  4. Eat, Drink and Be Merry
    I highly recommend walking around the venue, taking in some of the high-calorie food truck items, visit and compliment the many artisan’s handiworks, buy a cowboy hat, and spend some time taste testing some drinks with vendors like Jack Daniels and Coors Light.Boots and Hearts 2017-3
  5. Experience New Talent
    The Chevrolet Emerging Artist Showcase is always fun to watch and Chev makes it fun and interactive for fans who are hanging around.Boots and Hearts 2017-1
  6. Select Your Campsite Wisely
    With yearly complaints about the mess found in General Admission, you may want to consider Camping+.  That’s not to say that Camping+ or RV is any better (there was a trailer completely demolished at the end), but it may provide you with a few extra hours of sleep.  Let’s put it this way.  In general admission you will find, approximately 5,000 people and 2,000 campsites, all with a kitchen area. Add to that about 100 tables for beer pong and row after row of slip and slides.  People making food on grills while drinking a copious amount of booze.  This is not an HGTV show, it’s an outdoor country music concert.  Choose wisely and hope for the best or rent a hotel room.  On a side note, all the cans collected raised approximately $10,000 for the Barrie Kempettes Gymnastics Club.Boots and Hearts 2017-5
  7. Don’t Miss The Evening Talent
    There is nothing more rejuvenating than being part of a crowd of 30,000 or more, singing, and listening to International Country Music Artists.  Yes, even in the rain, you’ll make friends, dance, and do a lot of singing.  This year the whole park was evacuated on Friday night and kudos to security, it was done in such an orderly fashion.  However, it was a sight to see when everyone was welcomed back in to see Keith Urban.  It was almost like a cattle call.
  8. Live in the moment 
    Put those phones away and engage with people! Capture precious moments but not every moment.  Live in the moment and enjoy the experience.  If someone really wants to experience Boots and Hearts, let them come as a paying customer.

Boots and Hearts 2017-4

So unless I am in one posh Windstream or RV next year complete with a toilet and AC, I don’t think this old body can do it again.  However, with that said, I highly encourage any country music lover to give Boots and Hearts a try.  I’m almost certain you’ll want to be 18 again, in the back of a pickup truck and living in the moment, singing and dancing.

Related Images: