Lakes Jam: Year 5 is here; More new, fun features to keep people happy

Lakes Jam is here and those attending will be in for a treat this year--not only is the line-up "strong and different" but there are new events planned to please the crowds.

Campers enter the front gate Wednesday at Brainerd International Raceway for the Lakes Jam music festival. The festival runs Thursday through Saturday and features country and rock music artists. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Campers enter the front gate Wednesday at Brainerd International Raceway for the Lakes Jam music festival. The festival runs Thursday through Saturday and features country and rock music artists. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Lakes Jam is here and those attending will be in for a treat this year-not only is the line-up "strong and different" but there are new events planned to please the crowds.

Lakes Jam is a three-day music festival at Brainerd International Raceway, north of Brainerd. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the event and organizers continue to bring well-known names to the stage. Campers, who paid for an extra day, got through the gates early, Wednesday afternoon, but the main stage events start at 2 p.m. Thursday and 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday with national and regional bands performing.

Headlining Lakes Jam beginning at 10:30 p.m. each night are American country music singer Chris Janson on Thursday; the Christian American rock band Skillet on Friday, the rock and roll night; and country star Jake Owen on Saturday for country night.

Lakes Jam organizers were busy running in all directions Wednesday making sure everything was set up. Vendors were getting their booths ready and campers waited in line outside the BIR gates to get in.

The Lakes Jam stage is a state-of-the-art stage and this year the stage is larger than previous years. The stage takes two days to set up and is completed by a crew with Brad Bryan Productions, LLC, out of Silver Spring, Md. This year's stage has a wing on each side of the stage that offers more space and a shelter.


"The line-up is a little different than it has been in the past years," Lakes Jam Producer Amy Robeck said. "We changed it up with newer genre of music throwing in a little Bret Michaels for the classic crowd and then Skillet and Buckcherry being more on the alternative side for rock night. This will be a positive experience and these bands will bring in the younger crowd and that is OK.

"The country line-up is strong."

Lakes Jam General Manager Ken Lacy said all three nights of music are strong. Lacy said there were some mishaps with the rock night as one of the bands fell through. He said organizers brainstormed and decided their best option was to sign Skillet and Buckcherry.

"We've been getting different reactions from everyone," Lacy said on the line-up. "I never heard of Skillet before we signed them. We went to see their show in Fargo and ... the show was incredible, their light show blew me away. I can't wait to see them again."

Robeck said Thursday night's line-up will "pleasantly surprise people" as there are many regional favorites, including Chris Hawkey, LoCash and 32 Below. Robeck said Chris Janson also is a favorite who has been to Lakes Jam before and Dylan Jakobsen will also be fun.

Last year around 30,000 people attended Lakes Jam over the three days and this year, organizers hope to see the same number and hopefully more.

"Moondance decided to change their event to be held on the same weekend as us which doesn't make sense, as we can both exist because a lot of people like to go to both," Lacy said. "I don't know why they changed it, I guess we were a threat so they decided to do theirs at the same time as ours. ... That is affecting sales a little bit, but overall I think the genre we are going with on the rock side is more with people who will buy at the last minute. ... So I think we will see an increased crowd this year. We will see what happens."

Lacy said there will be a lot of new and fun stuff this year going on at Lakes Jam. The watercross will not be at Lakes Jam, but for the third year in a row there will be the car show and there also will be drifting demonstrations from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. The public is invited to attend these events.


The Minnesota Lawn Mowers Association will make their debut Friday and Saturday at Lakes Jam, offering seven classes with about 40 competitors who will compete on an oval track near "The Zoo" in the BIR campground. Lacy said a Lakes Jam ticket will be needed to see the lawn mower races.

The Traveling Art Pub will be set up at noon Friday in the VIP tent for people to do a painting of the top of a guitar, surrounded by Lakes Jam colors. Robeck said the art piece will be something nice for people to keep as a memory of their Lakes Jam experience.

Robeck said Lakes Jam has something new this year to enhance the VIP goers-a beach bar. She said American National Bank is sponsoring the beach bar, which will be a spot where the artists will come in before or after their meet and greets for a quick interview. A radio DJ will moderate the interview.

"Not everyone has access to the meet and greets and they're unable to get this close to the artists," Robeck said. "This will give people a nice experience."

Lacy said they also created 88 reserved seats in front of the stage, where people can buy a chair. People will get to keep the chair and will get a bracelet that comes off so they can share their chair with friends.

For people who don't want to worry about losing their wallet or driver's license, Lakes Jam is offering Fastbar. Fastbar is a digital, high-speed payment for events where people give their credit card information in exchange for a bracelet they swipe when they purchase a beverage.

Lacy is among several investors who own Lakes Jam. Lakes Jam founder Jerry Braam, who no longer is an owner, sold his shares to other investors.

Braam said he is proud of how Lakes Jam has grown through the years.


"When my family started this five years ago we had a 10-year plan and I think that is where we are now," Braam said. "The number of vendors, the number of attendance is up and we have the community support that we have always wanted. There is always something new here. It's not just a festival, we always have something going on and the BIR property is so diverse, with its 300 acres.

"As a family this will be our last hurrah. (When deciding to sell) what it came down to is we moved down to the Mankato area and as an entrepreneur, timing is everything. I did what I came to do starting a festival in the Brainerd lakes area. We know we have contributed over a million dollars to the local economy and to the Braam family that is pretty darn rewarding."

If You Go

Lakes Jam 2017

• When: Thursday-Saturday

• Where: Brainerd International Raceway

• Thursday: Dylan Jakobsen, 2 p.m.; 32 Below, 4 p.m.; Chris Hawkey, 6 p.m.; Locash, 8 p.m.; and Chris Janson, 10:30 p.m.

• Friday: Fabulous Armadillos, 4 p.m.; Buckcherry, 6 p.m.; Bret Michaels, 8 p.m.; and Skillet, 10:30 p.m. On the secondary stage will be Analog Drifters at noon; and Fookey at 2 p.m.; Kat Perkins at 11:30 p.m.


• Saturday: Maiden Dixie, 4 p.m.; Montgomery Gentry, 6 p.m.; Trace Adkins, 8 p.m.; and Jake Owen, 10:30 p.m. On the secondary stage will be Steele River Band, time to be determined; and Chris Hawkey at 11:30 p.m.

Weather for Lakes Jam

• Thursday there is a 20 percent chance of showers after 2 p.m. Otherwise, the day will be mostly sunny, with a high near 73, with a southwest wind of 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night a 20 percent chance of showers before 8 p.m., with a low around 53.

• Friday partly sunny, with a high near 67, with a northwest wind of 10-15 mph. Friday night also partly sunny, with a low around 49.

• Saturday there is a slight chance of showers between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 65. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Saturday night there is a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 8 p.m. Partly cloudy, with a low around 48.

(Source: National Weather Service in Duluth)

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