A 40-minute road trip north up Highway 58 will take you to an off-the-beaten-path scene for a music festival. Past Santa Margarita Lake is Pozo, home to the annual Pozo Stampede country music festival.
The event attracts a number of students, shown by the Cal Poly logos on the back of their trucks, the front of their sweaters and even on the face of their cornhole boards.
For the past two years, soil science senior Robert Cronk attended the event with plans to come back the following year.
“Just enjoying the atmosphere and environment with your friends (is why I come),” Cronk said. “The music comes second.”
Then there’s a whole other side to the festival — camping. Campers purchased their spots in addition to two-day concert tickets to take part in a two-day tailgate.
Along the rows of RVs and tents are American flags and sun-kissed college students taking a break from school work while bonding over country music.
Agricultural business sophomore Gill Howison said Pozo is a new family tradition among his brothers and him, and that Pozo was a lot cheaper and closer to attend for a Cal Poly student compared to Stagecoach.
“If they had to choose between the two and they were willing to pay then I would say Stagecoach, but if just (camping) is what they were going for then I would say come here,” Howison said. “Just like price honestly, I am not trying to throw down $500 on a weekend. Like I would rather throw down a buck-fifty and have just as much fun.”
The rules are clear. No hard alcohol is allowed on the campgrounds. Event staff patrols the rows of campsites to make sure campers abide by this rule. At one point, a game of endless flip-cup started between approximately 30 campers.
Elias Stokes, an event staff member, said the students seem to come back each year for the Pozo culture.
“I forgot that there was a concert, this seems to just be a big tailgating event,” Stokes said jokingly.
This was the seventh year Pozo Saloon hosted the two-day event, Saturday, April 30 to Sunday, May 1. The venue is all outdoors and this year’s headliners were Justin Moore, Joe Nichols and The Band Perry along with Old Dominion and Eric Paslay, among others. Music started up around noon and played until 10:30 p.m. both nights.
Justin Moore took the stage on Saturday night and played classics like “Bait a Hook,” “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” and “Til My Last Day.”
Howison said the crowd erupted when Moore took stage.
“Justin Moore was really cool and I definitely enjoy the music,” Howison said.
Many of the Saturday and Sunday acts at Pozo Stampede had played at Stagecoach the nights prior. The Band Perry headlined at Stagecoach on Saturday night and made its way up to Pozo to close the sold-out country music festival on Sunday night.