Rock on the Range Massive Tailgate a growing success once again!!

For eleven years Danny Wimmer Presents has been bringing rock-n-roll to the city of Columbus in the form of Rock on the Range. What started out as a one-day event with 14 acts headlined by the incomparable ZZ Top has grown into the largest rock festival in the US. It is now a three-day extravaganza with three stages and draws a who’s who among today’s rock world.

This year’s lineup was jam-packed with bands from all genres of rock. You name the style and it was most likely there. One of the greatest things that DWP and AEG do is mixing it up so that there is something for everyone.

Despite all the havoc that Mother Nature wreaked, ROTR 2017 was one of the best I have seen and I’ve been in attendance for every one of them. Perhaps it may have been the fact that for the first time I was actually able to see Metallica live after three other failed attempts.

Yes, being asked to evacuate MAPFRE Stadium didn’t sit well with a large portion of the attendees but in the end the safety of all the patrons is the most important on any scale you want to look at. I for one am willing to sacrifice eight to ten hours of down time in order to come back to do it again next year.

As I previously mentioned, I have been in attendance for all eleven ROTR’s and I have seen not only the fest grow but I have also witnessed the number of, what I call, satellite groups expand.

For those of you who may not be familiar with what I’m talking about, a satellite group is separate group or gathering of fans that get together on an annual basis to enjoy each other’s company, drink a few adult beverages and just have a good time whether it is in the campground, the parking lot or a hotel.

I personally was and still am a member of the original satellite gang known as the “Rock on the Range Party Page Crew”. The group got started via Myspace in between years one and two to discuss plans for the upcoming Rock on the Range. Scott ‘Pagemaster’ Prince and Justin ‘G’ Griffin were spearheading the movement and both are still around today.

We not only made plans for Rock on the Range 2008 but we also had other gatherings for shows throughout the year. We had cookouts, campouts, birthday parties; pretty much anything just to get together. What had started out as a group of rock-n-roll misfits who liked to party had evolved into a family.

Most of our ROTR planning revolved around the campground where we could just hang out and drink a beer or two (my guesstimate may be a little low). For several years we had live performances by X Factor One, a three-time ROTR performer, and invited everyone to join in on the shenanigans.

As time moved on; people have come and gone but a good portion of the core group is still around and we still look forward to seeing each other the third week of May. So much so that we had three or four members who couldn’t make it for the weekend this year but did show up at some point just to hang out and have that proverbial beer or two.

Massive Tailgate 2017. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

This year I also had the privilege and honor of attending another of those growing groups known as the Massive Tailgate, the brainchild of Ryan Davidson.

Davidson began the group in February of 2014 on Facebook with the help of John Skidmore and Robert Woolley. Mike Corley came on board two weeks later as administrator and together the quartet set the Massive Tailgate into motion.

After only three months of preparation the inaugural tailgate was kicked off on Saturday morning of ROTR.

Unfortunately that first year the only grill was furnished by David Piatt and that was a table top model that made it difficult to feed the masses. But Piatt managed to make it work and fed approximately 300 folks, thus becoming the official grill master for the group.           

Piatt continued to grill away in 2015 and 2016 on a full-size propane grill but kept his old table top around to utilize as a warmer. All of Piatt’s grilling equipment was used to cook approximately 300 pounds of grub at this year’s event. The man also built an enclosed trailer that housed a portable generator and refrigerator which donned logos for The Rust Belt Chronicles on one side and the lineup for Ink in the Clink, which will be held at the old Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio from July 14-16. We at The Rust Belt Chronicles appreciate the props Mr. Piatt, as well as the feeds.

John Brace, who was added as an administrator in 2015, led the charge of creating a GoFundMe account to help raise revenue to help with the financing of the party. His idea helped to divert a majority of the cost of the undertaking. The GoFundMe account along with contributions from attendees and the money spent out of pocket by the organizers this go-round ranged between $10,000-&15,000.

Not only was there the massive amount of food, but there was also 50-75 gallons of hard liquor including all flavors of Skittles vodka as well as a variety of flavored moonshine. If hard liquor wasn’t to your liking they had 1,200 Jell-O and pudding shots, two kegs of beer and an additional 50 cases of suds.

The World I Knew traveled up I-71 from Cincinnati to put on a live performance for the crowd’s entertainment thanks to the efforts of Ben Adams. The band proved to be the only live music that the tailgaters would hear for a while due to the gates being closed to MAPFRE Stadium because of inclement weather. The group from the Queen City gave a tremendous performance full of energy. Lead vocalist, Wesley Merritt, got the tailgaters juices flowing as he moved amongst them on his way to an unsuspecting rooftops of parked vehicles. TWIK’s appearance alone deserved a hefty donation, they were that good. If you see the name on a bill near you, they’re a must see.

Massive Tailgate 2017 and Jacoby Shaddix. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Following the live set from The World I Knew the Massive Tailgate organizers had a surprise guest in the form of Jacoby Shaddix, the lead singer for Papa Roach. Shaddix and his business partners for Lover’s Are Lunatics Clothing line wanted to do a photo shoot in the parking lot with people wearing different articles of LAL gear. The Massive Tailgate crowd was chosen thanks to the relentless efforts of Camille Mathis.

Shaddix, true to his word, arrived via a golf cart to the delight of the crowd. He took the opportunity to pose for several photos with the throng of tailgaters, ending the visit by standing in the back of Bruce Werner’s truck to show his gratitude to the fans.

Once Shaddix departed the party continued and carried on well beyond 2:30 p.m. when the doors to the venue finally opened.

Rock at the Villa with Cryptic and This Divine Tragedy. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Just as Rock on the Range has expanded so too has the tailgate as things took up the following morning. The Massive Tailgate actually got the weekend started on Thursday night when they joined forces with Stephanie Reed of Rock Outlaws to co-produce Rock at the Villa Pre Party at Alrosa Villa.

Although the Massive Tailgate event is one big party it is also a charitable event in which funds raised were donated and split equally among St. Jude, Fallen Officer Memorial Fund and You Rock Foundation.

Rock at the Villa with Ultimate Ozzy and Dread Engine. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Corley couldn’t give an exact number on how many people came to the tailgate but felt comfortable saying that there were several thousand attendees with no negative incidents.

Even though Rock on the Range and the Massive Tailgate 2017 has passed, things are gearing up to be bigger and better next year. If you would like to get involved you can visit the group’s twitter account (@ROTR_Tailgate) or on Instagram (@massivetailgate). Both sites were developed with the help of one of the newest administrators, Morgan Neas.

I want to personally thank Corley, Piatt and the rest of the administrators for being so hospitable to us at The Rust Belt Chronicles. It was great meeting new people and just like back in the beginning, I look forward to seeing those new acquaintances again next year. Only this time I believe I will indulge a little more in the adult beverages.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings to Rock on the Range and the Massive Tailgate. Until then this is Big L saying ‘keep those horns up and rock on’!! \m/ \m/










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Larry Ritter About Larry Ritter

Hello my name is Larry Ritter, or “Big L” to most of my friends. I’m a production supervisor for a major manufacturer of auto parts here in northwest Ohio. I received an Associate’s degree from Owen’s Community College where I graduated cum laude honors. I have a true passion for music, sports, photography and riding motorcycles. My love for these things are surpassed by just one thing, family, which includes two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.


  1. David Piatt says:

    Thanks for the props guys,… Looking forward to next year already!!!! Who knows,… maybe even a bigger and better trailer!!!!
    Thanks again!!! David the “Chef” Piatt

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