Campground security workers at the KICKER Country Stampede have their work cut out for them. Worrying about what they’re gonna eat isn’t something they’re worried about, and they don’t have to.
Gary Shook, campground security supervisor for the KICKER Country Stampede, has been feeding campground security and law enforcement three meals a day, every day of the festival since 18 years ago, only one year after the Stampede started.
“They mess with me all the time. They call my food slop, but what’s nice about is it’s like a family up here, one big family,” said Shook. “Some of us have been out here together since I’ve been up here.”
Shook buys all the food himself and only asks for donations. If workers don’t have the money on hand, they can sign a voucher to be taken out of their paycheck.
“I bring up all the food to start off and the way we started it, we had people donate. Well, some of them couldn’t donate because they didn’t have the money, and I wouldn’t turn them away just because they didn’t have any money,” said Shook.
Those who don’t have the money can fill out a voucher for some of their pay form the Stampede to be held from their check and given to Shook to help with the cost of food.
Shook says he is originally from Maryland, but he married his wife who is from Kansas and moved here long ago. He says the people in Kansas are much nicer than people in Maryland.
“It’s just nice to come here. All the people who come over to see me and say hi are all super people,” said Shook.
Shook says it takes a lot of patience to work in the campgrounds, with as many campers as there are and how crazy they can get.
“A lot of people don’t realize as big of a crowd as we have over here, we really don’t have that many problems,” said Shook
Patrick Shuke has been working the Stampede for 12 years, and has been eating Shook’s food each year. He says it’s much easier to stop by and grab whatever Shook’s cooking than it is to fend for yourself.
“You don’t have to deal with the lines, and the high prices of everything. It works out real well.”
Shuke’s favorite meal that Shook cooks up is deer steaks.
“That, and then the bacon in the morning,” said Shuke, who had just asked Shook to fry him up some bacon.
“There’s not any time you can’t come over here and there’s not something in the warmer,” said Shuke.
Shook says he used to cook food to order for everyone, but that became too much work so he decided to set meal times.
Shook plans to come back every year until he physically can’t anymore.