Lakes Jam 5 - A good time had by all

The fifth year of Lakes Jam, a three-day music festival held this past weekend at Brainerd International Raceway, did not disappoint fans despite temperatures being on the cold side for the end of June.

American Christian rock band Skillet headlines Friday at Lakes Jam music festival on rock night at Brainerd International Raceway. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)
American Christian rock band Skillet headlines Friday at Lakes Jam music festival on rock night at Brainerd International Raceway. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)

The fifth year of Lakes Jam, a three-day music festival held this past weekend at Brainerd International Raceway, did not disappoint fans despite temperatures being on the cold side for the end of June.

Fans filled the concert bowl all three days and many had to put on sweatshirts and jeans as temperatures lingered in the low to mid 60s under partly cloudy skies. A slight rain shower also treated fans Saturday night when country star Trace Adkins performed.

"It was awesome," Lakes Jam General Manager Ken Lacy said Sunday about the event. "We had a lot of different things going on this year, so there was a potential of a lot of problems, but our biggest problem was crappy weather. We had cold temps and rain that didn't help much ... but it still was a great night ... and Jake Owen was phenomenal."

Lacy said with the weather, campers didn't stick around in the concert bowl area throughout the nights. They would come listen to the band they wanted to and then went back to their campsite to enjoy the "party on the campground" and have a fire going to stay warm. Lacy said this was more prevalent during rock night because of the different music genres of the line-up.

"It's nice for our campers because they can sit in their camp site and hear the music from the concert bowl really well and this appeals to a lot of people," Lacy said. "This year we had a lot more campers than in past years."


Lakes Jam offered its usual mix of country and rock and roll nights, with people either coming all three days or selecting specific nights.

American country music singer Chris Janson was the headliner Thursday; the Christian American rock band Skillet was the headliner on Friday's rock and roll night; and country star Jake Owen closed down Lakes Jam on Saturday's country night.

Watching Skillet perform Friday night meant more to Pierz resident Katelyn Waytashek than it might have for most. In 2011, Waytashek was a ninth-grader at Pierz Healy High School and having a difficult time with other kids bullying her. She said she couldn't take it anymore and had come to a decision-she was going to attend a Skillet concert in St .Paul and then commit suicide the next day.

Waytashek was listening to the lyrics to the songs Skillet played and it changed her life, forever. The songs talked about suicide and that how people shouldn't do it as every life is worth something.

"Skillet changed my life," Waytashek said. "If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here today. They changed my mind back in 2011. I've been on the straight and arrow ever since. I joined the military, I don't drink or do drugs. I've never even had a speeding ticket before."

Waytashek, who now is in her first year at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, said she scraped every dime she could to go to Lakes Jam and her story helped her get meet-and-greet tickets. She painted a metal star for Skillet with their song titles and band name on it and gave it to them during the meet and greet.

During the concert, Skillet dedicated a song to her.

Becca Nathe of Pequot Lakes was at Lakes Jam mainly to see Bret Michaels. She only attended Friday-rock night.


"I was here last time Bret Michaels was here," Nathe said. "We then had VIP tickets."

Nathe and her husband were already trying to get in position to try to be in the front of the stage during the Buckcherry concert, who performed before Bret Michaels, to get a good spot to see her favorite artist.

"I knew a few of Buckcherry's songs," Nathe said.

Brainerd High School junior Josh Ewald attended Lakes Jam for the first time with a group of friends.

"You have to come to Lakes Jam, if you live in Brainerd, for the experience," Ewald said.

Ewald said he was excited to see Bret Michaels and Jake Owen.

Friends Christine Winch of Baxter and Kelsey Sjoblom-Turcotte of Brainerd were in line Saturday for a meet-and-greet with Montgomery Gentry.

"I've gone every year," Sjoblom-Turcotte said. "When my dad said, 'Who wants Montgomery Gentry meet and greet tickets' I was like, 'I do.'


"I have been listening to Montgomery Gentry for as long as I can remember. I love them."

The ladies said they enjoyed seeing Skillet and Bret Michaels Friday night and were looking forward to the country night line-up.

Winch said she likes Lakes Jam because it offers a country and rock night.

"I like the old school stuff," she said.

Bill Grams and Melanie Waye of Fargo, N.D., also were in line to meet Troy Gentry and Eddie Montgomery. The couple said they met each other at a Montgomery Gentry concert at the Dakota Magic Casino in North Dakota.

"We try to catch them every two years," Grams said. "Melanie is more country than I am."

The couple had memorabilia they hoped the country duo would autograph, including items Waye received from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. She has gone to Nashville every year for the past 15 years.

"I've been into country since the 1980s," Waye said. "Country artists sing real life stories, stories you can relate to. Their music is the best. Music offers the best therapy in life, it's soothing."


This is the couple's third year going to the music festival at BIR and they brought some friends from Fargo, who have never been to Lakes Jam, who also were having a good time.

Lakes Jam offered a "Beach Club" in the VIP tents where the artists made a quick appearance and were interviewed by a Lakes Jam staffer. During the "Beach Club" with Montgomery Gentry, the interviewer asked them questions that included, what song would you want to sing at a concert that is not your song, what would your beverage of choice be at the bar, what do you enjoy doing when you are not performing and what is your preferred food to eat before a concert.

Gentry said he doesn't like performing on a full stomach, because he would be afraid he would fall asleep during the concert. Montgomery said he would eat anything.

Denise Silvers of St. Joseph said she has been an ambassador for Lakes Jam for five years, where she volunteers her time to help Lakes Jam in exchange for tickets to the concerts. She said she hung up 140 posters, between herself and her friend Sue Lemke of Little Falls, throughout Minnesota.

This year, she also got the opportunity to meet Maiden Dixie backstage.

"We gave them all a high five," Silvers said of the six-member band from Minneapolis. "It was fun. There was so much equipment back there on the stage. We didn't have a lot of time to talk as they were getting ready to perform."

Silvers likes the atmosphere of Lakes Jam, with the smaller crowds, compared to WeFest and other festivals. She said she also likes that the jam offers country and rock and roll artists.

"Everyone here is so friendly," Silvers said. "Everyone has such a good time."


Friends Kylie McArtor of Iowa and Samantha Antrim of Minneapolis are big fans of Jake Owen and got meet and greet tickets.

"I've seen Jake Owen a couple of times," Antrim said. "He is fun and has a nice party beach show."

McArtor's favorite song by Jake Owen is "Beachin'" and Antrim's favorite is "Blue Jean Night."

It was the two friends first time at Lakes Jam and they said the experience has been "awesome" and "positive."

"We will definitely come back," Antrim said. "VIP is totally worth it. Seeing the interviews in the 'Beach Club' is cool to watch.

"I've been to a lot of country music festivals and this one is the best."

Cousins Tammy Brown and Julie Christensen, both of Brainerd, have both been to Lakes Jam three or more times and said they are more rock and roll fans, than country.

"I loved Skillet," Brown said.


Christensen said, "Buckcherry was Buckcherry."

Brown said she just got into country music recently so she enjoys the newer artists and was excited to see Jake Owen.

The cousins said Lakes Jam is a lot of fun and they enjoy people watching.

Danel and Mitch Arndt of Little Falls said this was their first year at Lakes Jam.

"We have 18-month-old twins and we needed a really good anniversary present this year," Danel Arndt said. "We will celebrate our six-year anniversary July 1. We are camping and have a three-day pass and it's great music and have made many friends."

Mitch Arndt, who is an acoustic rock band called King Kadabra and plays mostly in St. Cloud, was excited that he got a guitar pick from Skillet.

Andy Rooney of Grand Rapids and formerly of Baxter said it was his first year at Lakes Jam. He said his group of six have a Christmas theme at their campsites, which includes a blow-up Santa Claus, a Christmas tree and everyone wore Christmas-themes attire.

Rooney said his favorite artist to watch was Bret Michaels. He said he is more of a classic country classic, so he also enjoyed Trace Adkins and Montgomery Gentry.

"I love it, we will be back," Rooney said of Lakes Jam. "I like that it's not really crowded, not so packed. ... It's also fun to come back to the Brainerd area and visit friends."

For more photos from Saturday go to

For more photos from Friday go to

For more photos from Thursday go to

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