Lakes Jam 2020, a three-day outdoor music festival hosted annually at Brainerd International Raceway, is canceled.

Organizers made the announcement at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 2.

Lakes Jam, which is traditionally held each year in late June, was initially postponed to Aug. 5-8, with hopes the COVID-19 pandemic would be under control.

“With much heartache, we must announce that Lakes Jam 2020 will be postponed until June 23rd - 26th of 2021,” organizers announced in a press release. “This has been a long and agonizing process and we've tried everything possible to allow us to move forward with our August dates. Unfortunately due to recent comments by our state government and details of events in other states, we must notify our Lakes Jam Family, artists, vendors, employees, volunteers and so on, that the show can't go on as planned.

“We don't have the words to explain how much this hurts our souls.”

Lakes Jam General Manager Ken Lacy said it was a tough, heartbreaking decision to cancel the music festival, which started in 2013. The decision was made by the seven stakeholders of Lakes Jam.

“You work all year for this and you don’t want to give up,” Lacy said Thursday morning. “We get hundreds and hundreds of emails and messages from everybody that are like ‘Please, don't give up, please don't stop’ and you kind of feel like you're giving up now. It's not really what you want to do, but we ran out of time.”

Lacy said stakeholders had to make the decision now as the August date of Lakes Jam is a month out. This is the time the money deposits are to be made to the artists and contracts are in place, and Lacy said with the way the world is right now, if the event wasn’t canceled now there still would be no certainty that Lakes Jam would for sure go on.

“It’s uncharted territory for a lot of us,” Lacy said of the uncertainties in the world with the pandemic. “We weren’t fairly confident that we would be able to pull it off (in August). Sure, we could just send those deposits to the artist and tell them that we think we are going to have Lakes Jam, but to me that's just not morally or ethically the correct thing to do.”

There is a lot of work behind the scenes when planning a music festival and lots to juggle. Lacy said stakeholders have been watching the news across the country to help them come up with the decision to host Lakes Jam.

“There's really no other events that you can find in the Midwest right now,” Lacy said. “We had a COVID plan in place, to deal with as much social distancing as you can at a festival. We were gonna have the artist remind people (while they were performing) if they started crowding in to distance themselves. We have a big enough space here that we can get a large number and everyone can stay spread apart.

“But, there’s just been too much negativity that came up and then the governor started talking about closing all the bars down again. And then the Chase Rice concert that went on down in Tennessee last weekend. The crowd started crowding in ... and no one knows for sure what was all done to help prevent that, but once the other major artists started criticizing him and that event and started demonizing events ... we just couldn’t. We couldn’t ethically say with certainty that we’d still be able to do this.”

All Lakes Jam 2020 passes and camping will automatically be transferred to the 2021 event. People will be able to retain the same campsites, reserved seats and other things they have purchased. People will be able to exchange single day passes for a different day as the rock and country dates are not set at the moment. The new ticketing system is not set up yet, so it will be a month or so before it will get finalized, the news release stated.

If a person purchased a ticket at a business, not by email or online, they can mail the ticket, with a name and email address, and Lakes Jam will issue an electronic ticket to the email address. Mail the tickets to Lakes Jam, PO Box 2856, Baxter, MN 56425.

Lakes Jam does not have a refund policy, but organizers understand these are extraordinary times and if a person would like to make a case for a refund, by emailing

Lakes Jam’s goal is to retain every artist it possibly can. However, due to the situation, normal negotiations for next year may be more difficult, Lacy said, as artists have already been involved with negotiations with venues for 2021.

“We want to thank our Lakes Jam families, our jammers, our volunteers and vendors for being patient with us while we try to get through this week, we really did try to do everything possible,” Lacy said. “We just ran out of time. And it's sad. It truly is.”

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.