Jonathan Richie BW.tif

This job puts me around a lot of crowds. I’m usually not in the crowd, but following the crowd or wading through the crowd or taking a picture of the crowd from a distance. It all depends on the story I’m following.

I was sitting in a meeting last week when one of the big bosses of our publishing company said we should always be covering wherever crowds are in our communities. The conversation turned to other newspaper stuff, but the crowd line stuck with me.

As a city person, I’m used to seeing crowds everywhere.

I told this to my boss and he explained, “then it should be easier to spot the crowds.”

Which brings us to Saturday when I was in downtown Grantsburg for Big Gust Days. I was taking pictures of the crowds and listening to where people were from and what brought them there. That got me thinking about the other Burnett County crowds.

If we were to just continue throughout this year where will the big crowds be?

Well, there is Watercross in July, and before that, there are various Independence Day celebrations with fireworks, almost always a reason for a crowd to form. Both county fairs later in the summer and Gandy Dancer Days always bring in a lot of people.

Then as the seasons change, crowds tend to be more sporadic unless it’s a Friday and you’re at the bar or a football game. And don’t forget the crowds that drive through Friday and Sunday, it’s more like an invasion than a crowd.

Crowds are one of those things that often produce inspirational quotes about leaders and followers. Like Margaret Thatcher, who said, “Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”

Or this anonymous quote that I will clean up for readers, “Stop following the crowd. They’re lost.” It continues with an expletive, but I don’t need to curse to make my point, in this case.

But back to the city and my earlier experiences with crowds. I’ve seen all types of crowds in the city; crowds of protesters, crowds of concert-goers and crowds of people leaving a parking structure.

I used to work at Summerfest, Milwaukee’s annual music festival held on the shore of Lake Michigan, it is branded as the world’s largest music festival. 11 days of music, but most people are there to drink beer in the warm sun.

When I worked security for the event there were humongous crowds. Sometimes the festival grounds would see over 150,000 people.

Now that’s a crowd.

There was a crowd, maybe 140 people, Tuesday at the Government Center for a public hearing on a proposed Devils Lake campground. I continue to hear from concerned citizens, off the record, is these city people think they can just come into our community and do whatever they want in Burnett County and these residents want them to know, “that is simply not the case.”