Moondance Fab 14 draws thousands
Dean Morrill, Editor
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 19th, 2005 12:35:16 PM
Record crowds again made Moondance Jam Fab 14 another success.
Over the four-day festival, gate receipts topped more than 20,000 each
day, making it the largest campin' and jammin' event in the 14-year
Weather played a critical factor in the Jam's overall success, as no
rain fell during any performances, making it the second straight year
this has happened.
"I think it's one of only three Jams that we had great weather," said
Bill Bieloh, who along with his wife Kathy started the Jam 14 years ago.
"Seeing the people have fun and the good help we have is why we
continue to do this every year. They make it easy to put on," said
Bill, adding that about 310 people are hired each year to make the Jam
One of the highlights of this year's Jam was the Troop Tribute, a salute
to all the Minnesota men and women serving in the Armed Forces. The ceremony
was held Saturday night just before Cinderella took the stage.
Kristy Peterson, a Leech Lake summer resident, sang "God Bless
America" and "Soldier Come Home," a song she co-wrote
with her father. The Walker American Legion Post 134 Honor Guard brought
the colors on stage during the tribute.
For Bill and Kathy, honoring service members has special meaning. One
of their nephews served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and another nephew
will be heading to Iraq later this fall.
"That chopper coming in was absolutely cool. The whole response
from the crowd was really neat," said Kathy.
Following the tribute, Cinderella got the crowd warmed up for Whitesnake
and Twisted Sister. Twisted Sister, a replacement for The Doors of the
21st Century that canceled only days before the event, closed the show
with a crowd-pleasing display of great guitar play and loud lyrics.
The event did not start off on a good note as traffic jams backed up
traffic on Highways 371 and 200. The congestion prevented many Jammers
from getting into the campgrounds and fairgrounds for several hours.
The Bielohs said the traffic jam was attributed to miscommunication
with the state patrol and a record number of campers.
Kathy, like so many others, was caught in traffic for just about two
She said, unlike previous years where the campers would arrive early
in the morning, the hot and humid temperatures delayed many of the campers
from arriving early.
"Last year everyone got here early. They wanted to get here for
ZZ Top," Bill noted. "This year, everybody kind of dragged.
They didn't want to get here early. It's 90 degrees, let's not rush it."
In 2004 the highways were cleared just under two hours. This year the
traffic jam lasted many hours, as vehicles were backed up several miles
all the way to Walker.
"All the campers decided to come in Wednesday. They saw a beautiful
weekend and decided to get up here," Kathy said of a record 10,000
Performances by .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd, two of the best southern
rock bands that feature brothers Donnie VanZant and Johnny VanZant respectively,
also helped bring a record crowd.
An estimated 21,000 jammers came out to rock Wednesday night. Also performing
was The Daisy Dillman Band, Minnesota's original country rockers.
Thursday and Friday night also brought out record crowds. More than
21,000-plus saw REO Speedwagon, Grand Funk Railroad, Blackfoot and Cheap
Trick, who gained international fame in the 1970s, 1980s band Loverboy,
and Tesla who had hits in both the late '80s and and early '90s.
To accommodate the record crowds, the fairgrounds were expanded by about
31,000 square feet.
The Jam also featured a new addition to an already spectacular stage.
A platform was added 20 feet above the main stage so fans could see the
bands perform without interfering with the production staff.
Bill and Kathy said in a few weeks they will talk with all their key
staff members and decide if there will be a Jam in 2006. Next year would
mark the 15th anniversary — a milestone that the Bielohs believe
would not be possible without the "great" support of the Walker
If next year is a go, Bill and Kathy want to do something special. They
don't want to speculate on what bands they want to perform, but they
are sure the Jam will still focus on classic rock 'n' roll.