It should be Lucky No. 7 for Lakes Jam fans this year as organizers promise bigger bands, a bigger stage, more activities and more sun during the three-day music festival that kicks off at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at Brainerd International Raceway, north of Brainerd off Highway 371.
This year marks the seventh anniversary of Lakes Jam, which has garnered a reputation of being "more than just a music festival." The festival not only offers three days of country and rock 'n' roll music, but hosts events throughout the daytime hours to keep people occupied.
Lakes Jam will open its gates to campers, who paid for an extra day, at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Owners of recreational vehicles and campers who purchased general camping began lining up as early as Sunday to get first dibs on where to camp for the festival.
Lakes Jam general manager Ken Lacy said BIR has 165 full service camping sites and they sold out last October. There are another 300 reserved sites and there are about 15 left, plus general camping, which is first come-first serve.
"We are fortunate to have BIR, everyone we talk to from other festivals say we are so lucky to have this spot," Lacy said of all the campsites and property BIR has to offer. "It not only has the camping, but we have 12 condos where people can walk out on the deck and watch the event and no other festival can offer that."
The big news for this year's Lakes Jam is the music. Lakes Jam will have 24 bands-seven more than last year-performing Thursday-Saturday. Not only will Lakes Jam have its traditional lineup of high level country artists and rock groups performing on the 2019 Bud Light Main Stage, but will have more artists perform the main stage breaks. Lakes Jam is calling this portion the Midwest Country Music Association stage lineup. There will also be bands performing on the secondary stage of groups performing each night.
Lakes Jam lineup
Main stage lineup:
• Thursday: Gary Allan, 10 p.m.; Lauren Alaina, 8 p.m.; Jackie Lee, 6 p.m.; Eric Chesser, 4 p.m.
• Friday: Justin Moore, 10 p.m.; Scotty McCreery, 8 p.m.; Sawyer Brown, 6 p.m.; Little Texas, 4 p.m.; and Mitch Gordon, 2 p.m.
• Saturday: 3 Doors Down, 10 p.m.; Collective Soul, 8 p.m.; Fuel, 6 p.m.; The Crown Jewels: A Tribute to Queen, 4 p.m.; and Transit Authority, a Tribute to Chicago, 2 p.m.
Midwest CMA lineup:
• Thursday: Erin Grand and Danny Grause.
• Friday: The Plott Hounds and Dram Shop Country Band.
• Saturday: Anderson Daniels and Highway Hippie: The Jensen Sisters.
• Copperhead Creek, Thursday; Hastings & Co, Friday; Midwest Mayhem, Saturday. Will play between headliners.
The musicians performing on the Midwest CMA lineup are well known in the Midwest and have been awarded with Midwest CMA awards. Erin Grand was named the 2018 Female Vocalist of the Year and The Plott Hounds were named the 2018 Band of the Year.
Lacy said Thursday's lineup is phenomenal with Nashville acts of Lauren Alaina and Gary Allen, with Friday's lineup hosting four strong acts in a row with Little Texas, Sawyer Brown, Scotty McCreery and Justin Moore.
"Saturday is the strongest rock lineup we've had," Lacy said. "It kind of rivals when we had Styx, 38 Special and Survivor, but right now it's looking really good. We have two tribute bands, Transit Authority, a tribute band to Chicago, and The Crown Jewels, who were on secondary stage last year and they were a hit. And then we have Fuel, Collective Soul and 3 Doors Down.
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Weather for Lakes Jam
• Wednesday mostly sunny, with a high near 85, and a low of 61 at night and a 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8 p.m.
• Thursday there is a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, after 8 a.m. and again after 8 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 85, with a low around 64.
• Friday there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms before 8 a.m., then a slight chance of showers through 2 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 88. There is a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 a.m., with a low around 68.
• Saturday there is a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 8 a.m. Partly sunny and hot, with a high near 91. There is a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8 p.m., with a low around 69.
(Source: National Weather Service in Duluth)
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"I'm excited about (the lineup) and our group is excited about it and from what I hear from everyone who bought tickets, they're excited about too.
"We've had an excellent response to all three nights. And then once the forecast came out it helped us with sales. Sales are up a bit right now, which is great as most festivals in the state are down right now. I don't know why it's down, it could be weather, timing ... it's hard to say."
Lacy said those attending should stay busy during the three days, as Lakes Jam is more than just a music festival.
Lakes Jam is bringing back events from the past, including watercross-snowmobiles racing on the water-running from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Minnesota Lawn Mower Racing Association will make its appearance from 10 a.m.-noon Friday and Saturday, offering seven classes with about 40 competitors who will compete in races on an oval track near "The Zoo" in the BIR campground. Drifting demonstrations also are back and run from 10 a.m.-noon Friday-Saturday on the drifting pad in the main Lakes Jam parking lot.
Lacy said bean bag tournaments will return and new this year will be poker tournaments hosted at 10 a.m. Friday-Saturday, with check in time at 9:50 a.m. in the VIP tent. Up to 36 players per day can participate.
The Lakes Jam Campsite Decorating Contest also will be done, with a theme of "Bait the Hoof" and "Kryptonite."
There will be 28 vendors on the BIR property selling their beverage, food and merchandise products.
Lacy said with the weather forecast expected to be in the upper 80s, people have been emailing wondering if they could get water at their campsite to fill kiddie pools. The Brainerd Fire Department is unable to fulfill this request, but Lacy said if there is anyone who can accommodate the request to call Lakes Jam.
The main item to set up to prepare for Lakes Jam, is building the main stage, which took place Tuesday. Tommy Vee of Rockhouse Productions of St. Joseph is this year's stage manager. He said a 36-person crew is anticipated to complete the stage by the end of the day. Lights and other equipment is expected to be set up Wednesday, June 26.
"It's been an uneventful day," Vee said of getting the stage set, as it was "coming along well. The stage will be ready for the show."
Vee said this year's Lakes Jam stage is bigger than previous years-so fans should notice a change.
Helping with the stage are the companies of Music Junkies, based in Iowa, Shawnee Services and StageLine, both based in Illinois.
Another change with Lakes Jam this year-something the general public may not notice-is Erik and Carolyn Huff of Huff Entertainment are back coordinating the artists and backstage activities. The Huffs worked with Lakes Jam when it was first founded and stayed on for two years, and are now back.
"We are very excited to be a part of Lakes Jam again and to work with all the great people," Carolyn Huff said. "All the bands I've talked to at all levels are excited to be coming to Lakes Jam. It has a great reputation in the entertainment industry among the tour managers, production managers and artists have heard about it and want to be a part of it. It's a fun festival with all the different aspects to it."
Huff shared some of the special food requests the artists have when they come to the festival. She said 3 Doors Down love to have sushi when they are done with a show; and Gary Allen and Justin Moore eat healthy so they requested chicken breasts and broccoli, along with a pesto pasta.
For those wanting to go to Lakes Jam - go to www.lakesjam.com/tickets.