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Lakes Jam returns to BIR

Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls Lakes Jam officials Carolyn Huff and Jerry Braam talk about the Lakes Jam that begins tonight at Brainerd International Raceway and continues through Saturday night. 1 / 2
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls Waiting until the gates open Wednesday, Steve Herzenach talks about his upcoming weekend at Lakes Jam inside Brainerd International Raceway. 2 / 2

Headliners Bret Michaels and Clay Walker - among other national artists - will soon hit the main stage for the second annual Lakes Jam music festival aiming to give rock and country fans the time of their lives.

Lakes Jam opens today and runs through Saturday at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), located north of Baxter on Highway 371.

Campers are allowed into the grounds today, with the national artists performing Friday and Saturday. Secondary bands will perform all three days.

The line-up includes:

• Thursday on the secondary stage: 6 p.m., Electric Almighty; 8 p.m., 32 Below; and 10 p.m., Chris Hawkey.

• Friday (country night): Secondary stage: 12 p.m., Roadhouse 6; 2 p.m., Jeremiah James Korfe; Last Call, Korfe. Main stage: 4 p.m., Chris Hawkey; 6 p.m., Bucky Covington; 8 p.m., Maggie Rose; 10 p.m., Clay Walker.

• Saturday (rock night): Secondary stage: 12 p.m., King's Ransom; 2 p.m., Madd Company. Last Call, Captain May I. Main stage: 4 p.m., ThundHerStruck; 6 p.m., Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas; 8 p.m., Uncle Kracker; 10 p.m., Bret Michaels.

Tickets for the event will be available at the gates, for people who have not purchased advanced tickets. Tickets will be $115 for a weekend pass or $85 for Friday and Saturday passes; $200 for VIP, if available. A camping wristband is $35 per person. Parking is $10 at the gate.

Jerry Braam, owner of Lakes Jam, and Huff Entertainment Solutions, the company hired to promote Lakes Jam, have been busy getting the grounds ready for the three-day event. The main stage will be set up today.

Carolyn Huff with Huff Entertainment Solutions said the stage will take eight hours to set up and on Friday it will take another four hours to do the lighting and sound. Recreation Vehicles (RV) for the musicians and the Lakes Jam headquarters were set up Wednesday, as well as some of the food vendors.

Braam said Lakes Jam has made its own brand, which is what he has wanted.

"We have worked hard to get the name Lakes Jam out there," Braam said. "Lakes Jam means something and we have accomplished that.

"We have a lot of great partnerships with our sponsors. They do so much more for us than what is required."

Huff said all the musicians were great to work with, as Huff Entertainment Solutions makes sure the musicians have everything they need during their stay at Lakes Jam, such as food and drinks.

"The theme this year seems to be healthy," said Huff. "All of them want fruit and vegetables and chicken. There are some vegetarians ... We are being sensitive to Bret Michaels with his diabetic needs.

"We provide them with alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages. Crown Royal and Grey Goose vodka."

Huff said they only had one drawback this year and that was when country star Gretchen Wilson had to cancel out of Lakes Jam because her doctor ordered her to take a vocal rest. However, they were able to find a replacement for her with Clay Walker.

Otherwise, everything has run smoothly for getting the event ready for the second time. Huff said ticket sales are ahead from last year and they expect about 4,000-6,000 people for the event. Huff said they staggered their discount ticket sales and that helped.

There are 15 bands performing for the event, compared to nine last year. Huff said they are bringing back Lakes Jam favorites, ThundHerStruck and Chris Hawkey.

Huff said camping will be better this year as they have three levels of camping for people to choose from with reserved, general and full service.

Organizers added an extra day this year, allowing campers to set up their campsite, beginning at 8 a.m. today. Campers were already in line beginning around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Steve Herzenach of Ironton and Brian Blom of Deerwood said everyone who was in the front of the line Wednesday all seemed to come at the same time. They said they also came early last year.

"We were fourth or fifth in line last year too," Herzenach said. "This is the tailgating party, there are about 12 of us in the group. We come early because we want to be by the oak tree for the shade.

"It's nice to take a few days off ... And a day in the rain beats a day at work."

When asked who the men were most excited to see at Lakes Jam, Herzenach said "I really don't know."

Blom said Bret Michaels and Uncle Kracker are at the top of his list, but said all of them will be fun to listen to.

"I enjoy Lakes Jam, it's convenient compared to going to some of the other music jams," said Blom.

Mike Stanford of Brainerd and his "Pit Stop Crew," referring to the downtown Brainerd bar, were the first in line. This is the group's second time attending Lakes Jam.

"We wanted to get here early so we can camp in the high spots," said Stanford. "There is about 30 of us with about five RVs."

Larry Berg of East Gull Lake, part of the crew, said last year he lost his awning off his RV, so this year they are prepared for the weather.

Huff said with the extra day, comes extra entertainment and bands will perform on the secondary stage beginning at 6 p.m. today.

"This is open to anyone," Huff said. "We are calling it our 'Happy Hour' and it begins at 3 p.m. Cost is $10 and we will have drink specials."

Huff said the lay-out of the land will be different this year and the secondary and main stages will be closer together and there will be more parking spaces.