99.9 KISS Country Chili Cookoff: Fewer People, More Manners, Please

If many of those in attendance at the 27th Annual 99.9 KISS Country Chili Cookoff were official representatives of the United States, they'd offer a sort of dim but realistic view of American history. 

We have a longstanding history of demonstrating unfailing pride for living in the land of the free, the home of the brave. That history, however romantic, is also one of wrongful invasions and some not-so-nice racism. Check out those Confederate flags flying high.  

Despite all of that, what 99.9 KISS Country has done is a beautiful thing. It's created a longstanding music festival that celebrates twang, freedom, and good ol' Southern glory -- one that's still able to sell out 27 years after the fest's inaugural date.

Unfortunately it's become a beast that's outgrown C.B. Smith Park, a 76,000-square-foot venue in Pembroke Pines. According to Clay Walker, the third of five performers this weekend, there were 30,000 attendees, which translates to approximately 2.5 square feet of breathing room for each.

Don't get me wrong -- that was fun for about an hour. Arriving at C.B. Smith Park around 10 a.m., a drunk and puking woman greeted us at the gate, signaling that tailgating was wildly successful.

After walking the perimeter of the park to the entrance and standing for 45 minutes in the will-call line (which was manned by two very patient women), we managed to find a spot in the middle of the concert crowd.

It was redneck Nirvana. The scene was first described by a companion as the "Redneck Ultra" but was later changed to "Redneck Woodstock." The latter nickname soon outgrew its peaceful description.

Chris Cagle was wonderful, regaling the crowd with stories of the time he quit playing music and eventually thanking the American military troops by saying: "I had two little girls recently, and they can grow up without having to learn to speak Japanese, German, or Iranian thanks to you guys." Whoa.

You'll never see stoners at Marley Fest do anything more than chill. In fact, trying to incite a riot in a crowd of stoners would be like trying to excite a roll of toilet paper. Drunk Southerners are a different story. After purposely imbibing copious amounts of booze, they're content to dance. Occasionally they'll throw their hands over their heads and declare "Wooooooo!" But the dark side of drinking is dark indeed.

Clay Walker performed shortly after Cagle. During his performance, a nearby family moved their chairs in order to deny access to drunken attendees looking to push their way through the crowd.

One girl in a "Save a Horse, Ride a Unicorn" shirt began yelling at her mother and arguing with a cop once that tactic failed. The family's young daughter cried with nervousness. Soon, a drunken, beastly man decided to retaliate against the family's valiant stand by punching the father. That resulted in two grown men flailing on the ground in a bold statement of brute force and high intellect. 

The family left right after, the young daughter crying more heavily thanks to being kicked during the tussle. Truly a family affair. 

That opened up the floodgates. An effort to explain to the rude crowd that the family in front was blocking access failed as well. Soon, we were surrounded. We got the middle finger. We were called "bitches."

And that's when the Chili Cookoff ceased being fun. We packed up our now-trampled blankets and made apologetic noises to the poor, nonoffensive concertgoers we now had to push through.

Chris Cagle joined Clay Walker onstage. As we made the last step to leave the overly crowded area, the mother from the family in front of us was on the receiving end of a drunk man wielding his belt buckle. She fell down hard.

While it would have been nice to stay and enjoy hearing "Chicken Fried" by the Zac Brown Band, my group decided we'd taken enough chances for one day. We didn't need to become battered housewives thankyouverymuch.

To 99.9 KISS Country, please consider a larger venue, multiple stages, or a smaller admittance. Violence is never fun.

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Devin Desjarlais