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Good times and good turn-out at Lakes Jam

Night Ranger rocks out Saturday during Lakes Jam music festival at Brainerd Inte1 / 2
Fans enjoy the music of ThundHerStruck Saturday during Lakes Jam at Brainerd Int2 / 2

Nine bands including REO Speedwagon came and conquered Lakes Jam at Brainerd International Raceway and Resort (BIR) Friday and Saturday, leaving music fans with no disappointments.

Lakes Jam, the first ever outdoor country/rock music festival held in Brainerd, went on without a hitch. All the bands played on time and gave fans all they had. The weather held out, as it only rained a short time Friday night after the headliner, The Kentucky Headhunters performed. Saturday was sunny skies and once the sun went down, fans enjoyed a cooler night with temperatures in the 60s.

Carolyn Huff of Huff Entertainment Solutions, which promoted Lakes Jam, said the two-day event went well. They sold 3,500 tickets, including about 300-plus tickets for the VIP section, which was close to being sold out. Huff said organizers are pleased with the number of ticket sales for it being the first year of the event. Huff said she was told by people in the music business, the artists and a competitor that selling 3,500 tickets is a great start for the first year.

“Execution of the event went well,” said Huff. “We are perfectionists so we want to improve on things that others wouldn’t see, like putting a garbage can here. ... But overall, to pull something this big off in an open field went smooth. There were no major incidences and the bands were pleased with the event.”

Huff said 50-plus staff and volunteers from BIR, Huff Entertainment and the food and beverage vendors were busy Sunday cleaning up after the event. Huff said they also had to take the stage down, which took most of the day.

After the meet and greet with REO Speedwagon after midnight Saturday, Jerry Braam, BIR public safety director, said he thought Lakes Jam went well.

“This was our first execution of this music festival and it went great,” said Braam. “We had a few minor problems but we fixed them and moved on. I was very pleased with the entertainment, the bands were on schedule, the food was great and I’ve heard nothing but great comments from the fans.”

Fans from the Brainerd lakes area and across Minnesota attended Lakes Jam. Some were there to see a particular band or two and others were there for all the bands.

Tami and Tom Noel of Morris drove to BIR for the day Saturday to see blues singer Sena Ehrhardt.

“Sena brought us here,” said Tami Noel. “We’ve seen her three times, once in Sioux Falls (S.D.), another time in Duluth and then in Grand Forks (N.D.). And now we’ve seen her in Brainerd. When she performs close to home we go to see her.

“We love her variation of songs and the way she sings.”

The Noels had Ehrhardt sign a photograph, a CD and Tom’s hat.

Each of the bands offered a meet and greet with the media and for fans who won a chance to meet the bands.

Craig Dickmeyer of Breezy Point had the chance to meet American classic rock bands Night Ranger and Great White, who played Saturday.

“I’m a child of 80s rock and I listened to all of them, going back 30 years,” said Dickmeyer. “I saw REO perform in the late 70s. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them.”

Kim and Curt Nelson of Baxter, who got to meet Great White, were in the VIP section at Lakes Jam. They were most excited to see ThundHerStruck and Great White.

“We love it,” Kim Nelson said of Lakes Jam. “We bought our tickets the second they went online. When we found out about it we knew we wanted to go.”

The Nelsons said they have seen Great White four times, which included the time at Lakes Jam.

“They are a nice bunch of guys,” Kim Nelson said. “We met them in Walker.”

Curt Nelson said his favorite Great White song is “Mr. Bone” and Kim’s favorite is “Once Bitten Twice Shy.”

Tracine McFadden of Brainerd attended Lakes Jam to see all the bands, but particularly REO Speedwagon. She has seen REO three times. She brought her 13-year-old son Kiernan and it was his first concert.

“It’s phenomenal,” McFadden said of the music festival as she waited in line to get an autographed photograph of ThundHerStruck.

“I will be back. I can’t wait to see who will be here next year.”

Bruce Billington of Crosslake and Lisa Sunde of Park Rapids, who were in the VIP section, were in the first row waiting to see Great White. They were at the Lakes Jam for the entire two days and said Friday’s music line-up was “awesome.” They also were looking forward to seeing all the classic rock bands Saturday.

Brian Bart and Alaina Perry of Minneapolis, who had their photos taken with Night Ranger during the meet and greet, said they are old friends with Night Ranger band member Kelly Keagy. Bart said he did a few music gigs with Keagy when the band member lived in Minneapolis. Bart said he also produced one of Keagy’s solo albums.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at