PINE RIVER -- The 14th annual Lakes Bluegrass Festival returns for a four-day weekend opening Wednesday, Aug. 21, to the Cass County Fairgrounds in Pine River.

Back by popular demand for the second year in a row will be The Malpass Brothers, who will be the headliner at 10:10 p.m. Aug. 23.

Entertainment directors stated in a news release this group is “The closest thing to Nashville’s Golden Age since the passing of Merle Haggard.” While not a bluegrass group, The Malpass Brothers have had success on the bluegrass festival circuit.

“Most bluegrass fans are also classic country fans and love hearing the classic sounds of country music complete with fiddle, steel guitar, rhinestone suits and big man hair, and even an Elvis twitch or two,” the news release stated.

The rest of the weekends’ lineup features the best in national and regional bluegrass groups, including Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, Nightflyer and The Clay Hess Band, all from Ohio; The Baker Family of Missouri; The Kody Norris Show of Tennessee; and The High 48’s, Sarah Mae and the Birkland Boys, Shaffers Lost 40, The Tony Rook Band, Tim and Cindy & Friends and Eric’s Dance Band, all of Minnesota.

In addition to four days of main stage performances, the festival also features instructional workshops taught by the musicians, impromptu jam sessions throughout the grounds, camping, food, dancing and more. Also, Wednesday night features a polka and country dance, which is open and free to the public.

The main stage runs music from 5-11 p.m. Aug. 22; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 23-24; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 25. The show runs rain or shine as the concert area includes large tents for shade or inclement weather, or for extended bad weather, the music moves inside. Concertgoers may bring a lawn chair and relax and hear some of the most accomplished bluegrass music artists in the world, entertainment directors stated.

Flexible ticket packages are available in advance or at the gate from a single day, single night, or various weekend packages. Youths are free and teenagers are $10 for any length stay. Camping also is available for an additional fee.

For tickets and more information, go online at www.lakesbluegrassfestival.com or call the Pine River Chamber at 218-587-4000.

The Lakes Bluegrass Festival is presented by The Pine River Area Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

The Purple Hulls performed in the 2018 Lakes Bluegrass Festival on the Cass County Fairgrounds stage in Pine River. This year the four-day weekend opens Wednesday, Aug. 21. Submitted Photo
The Purple Hulls performed in the 2018 Lakes Bluegrass Festival on the Cass County Fairgrounds stage in Pine River. This year the four-day weekend opens Wednesday, Aug. 21. Submitted Photo

History of festival

The Lakes Bluegrass Festival was started in 2002 by Tim and Cindy Roggenkamp. They had been bluegrass musicians and fans for years and had a dream of bringing a bluegrass festival to the lakes area, a news release stated. They partnered with Ski Gull and had the festival at the base of the ski hill from 2002-05. The first couple of years were quite sparse with just a few hundred in attendance. As the word got out and more national acts were added, the attendance jumped dramatically in years three and four to the point that another location needed to be secured.

After taking a year off, the festival found its new home in 2007 at the Cass County Fairgrounds in Pine River. It remained a private enterprise by the Roggenkamps in partnership with the Cass County Fair Board and the Chamber of Commerce. After two more years and more growth, the festival was shelved again for a few years until a new nonprofit organization was started by community leaders to purchase and operate the festival. The new entity was named the Pine River Area Foundation, which also runs other events in the community.

The festival resumed at the Cass County Fairgrounds again in 2012 under the ownership of PRAF, while the Roggenkamps’ stayed on as entertainment directors. 2019 marks the 14th year of the festival and the 10th year at the fairgrounds.

The festival has seen much growth during this time and has once again outgrown its venue. So PRAF announces it recently purchased 24 acres of land a half-mile north of the fairgrounds and will move the festival there in 2020. The vision is for the new location, to be named the Lakes Music and Events Park, to be more than just a home for the festival, but a regional venue for other music and community events. Pictures and more details of the new venue are at www.lakesbluegrassfestival.com

If You Go:

  • The 14th Annual Lakes Bluegrass Festival.

  • Aug. 21-25.

  • Cass County Fairgrounds, Pine River.

  • Advance tickets is $20 for single, $54 adult four-day package. At the gate -- $20-65.

Contact: www.lakesbluegrassfestival.com, 800-728-6926.