With the first Los Dells Festival in the books, Woodside owner Damon Zumwalt is already making plans to bring additional concerts to his sprawling complex east of Mauston.
Zumwalt said Los Dells went “fabulously” when reached by phone Sept. 11 from his office in Los Angeles. He said about 30,000-35,000 fans attended the festival Sept. 2-3, an average of 17,000 per day. The concert event featured several popular Latin music acts, highlighted by Mana and Daddy Yankee.
“It was incredible,” Zumwalt said. “The people who came were families and they were wonderful. I even heard from some of the businesses in town and people came in and used their services and were nice. It was a real family-oriented event. Most of the local people may not have understood the words, but they could see these were great musicians and great bands.”
Zumwalt said some of the musical acts were a little nervous about signing on to the first-time event, especially since the location was unknown to many of the musicians. Once they hit the stage, however, any trepidation about Los Dells quickly faded.
“They all left wanting to come back,” Zumwalt said. “They were extremely excited about what we put forth for them; loved the venue, the people and the energy that was there. We really went over the world on this show. Everyone saw it was a great venue and a great place to play.”
The Woodside owner wished the attendance would have been slightly higher, but was pleased with the large crowd that attended. He was hoping for 30,000 or more each day.
Overall, the event was run smoothly with no major security incidents. Zumwalt’s large security firm, CSC, ran Los Dells security with help from local law enforcement. He said the efficiency was a testament to the work of everyone who pitched in. The show’s production was also very high, giving the event a large-concert feel.
“The medical team from Mauston was fabulous, they were great to work with,” Zumwalt said. “The sheriff’s department from Juneau County was great to work with. Everybody worked as a team. I’ve been involved in entertainment, in a different capacity, for 50 years and for a festival setup, I’ve never seen a better first effort.”
While Zumwalt lauds the first Los Dells as a success, he said it failed to generate a profit. A few days prior to the fest, Zumwalt announced he would donate all proceeds from the event to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. He intends to keep that promise and is working on a fundraising plan with Mana, the Mexican rock band which capped off the fest’s opening night.
“The hope was that the numbers would have been a little higher and it would have been more financially profitable, but I will go out of pocket and donate myself,” Zumwalt said.
Zumwalt wouldn’t specify how much he would donate, but said he would like to contribute to Houston Texans star J.J. Watt’s fundraiser. Watt’s hurricane relief drive has generated more than $30 million. Zumwalt owns a large security firm in Houston which employs more than 4,000 workers.
Zumwalt definitely plans to bring Los Dells back next summer. He said he would like to improve the event’s marketing and ticketing efforts to reach a wider Latino population. Zumwalt said Los Dells was promoted heavily in the Twin Cities, Chicago, Milwaukee and other Midwest hubs.
“I really want someone who really understands the Latino culture,” Zumwalt said. “Social media is certainly used extensively in our world, but the Latino community doesn’t spend a great deal of their time on social media so that shouldn’t be the primary focus to sell tickets. I would do that differently.”
Zumwalt also heard from non-Latino spectators who said they enjoyed their Los Dells experience. For next year, he’s considering bringing in a couple English-speaking acts.
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’re considering everything for the future. The first year is about laying the foundation. This first year is a commitment to go forward. It would have been useless if we didn’t intend to go forward.”
Zumwalt is considering two special events next year, a second installment of Los Dells and a large Country music event. There were rumors he was trying to bring Garth Brooks to Woodside, but Zumwalt wouldn’t specify it was the Country superstar.
“We just need to take the template, tweak it a little bit and move forward on what we want to achieve,” Zumwalt said.