Only 200 Tickets Left to See Willie in Choteau

Tribune Staff Writer
Just 200 “golden” tickets remain.

Instead of the chocolate-making Willy creating a mad dash for tickets, it’s country music legend Willie Nelson that had people lined around the block in Choteau.

A not-so anonymous benefactor paid to bring Nelson to Choteau for the annual July 3 concert, specifying that Teton County residents get the first shot at 3,000 free tickets. 

Fans set up chairs outside the high school at 2:30 a.m. for the first batch given away Saturday. Many in the back of the line were told their chances were slim but waited anyway, hoping people in front of them wouldn’t take all four tickets they were allotted.Some 200 people were turned away.

A second batch was handed out Wednesday, with people getting in line at 9 a.m. outside Choteau High School — eight hours before tickets were handed out.

Even though he had location working to his advantage, High School Principal Nate Achenbach wasn’t able to jockey for tickets.

“If I cut in line, I’d be shot and hung,” he joked.

Doreen Campanian, a waitress at the Log Cabin Café, will be working to feed the crowd rather than attending the concert herself. She said she already has seen an increase in business from people coming to town to wait in line.

“People aren’t pushing and shoving. Everybody laughs and jokes,” she said. “It was almost fun for them with their chairs and thermoses.”

With Teton County residents snapping up their whole pot of tickets, all that’s left is 200 set aside for the general public.

“We wish we could cram more in,” said Julie Barcus, a Choteau Jaycee who is organizing the concert. “I wasn’t expecting that response. It’s been overwhelming.”

Barcus has heard rumors that people planned to sell their tickets, but said she hopes people will appreciate the treat and not use the event to make money. Organizers also are worried that people will try to get in without tickets, which are necessary because there is only room for 3,200 people in the rodeo arena.

To enter the lottery for the remaining 200 tickets, send a postcard to Willie Nelson Ticket Lottery, Choteau Jaycees, P.O. Box 275, Choteau, 58422. Lottery drawings will be held June 1, 8, 15 and 22, with each winner getting two tickets.

People also can listen to local radio stations, which may hold contests for a few tickets.

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