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Moondance Jam 13 under way Wednesday

by George Fairbanks, Staff writer
The Pilot-Independent

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

Thanks to good weather and a staff of highly experienced workers, preparation for Moondance Jam 13 was almost flawless.

The Jam gets under way Wednesday afternoon and features an evening lineup of Big John Dickerson, The Randall Zwarte' Band, Chris Robinson and New Earth Mud, and ZZ Top. Robinson was the lead singer of the successful Black Crows.

The budget for this year's music performers is nearly $1 million.

"That's just for the bands," Bill Bieloh, who owns and promotes the Jam with his wife Kathy, said Tuesday.

So far, it seems Thursday is likely to be the Jam's biggest single day as far as attendance is concerned.

"Thursday's outselling all four days, three to one," Bieloh noted.

The lineup Thursday includes Ronnie Baker Brooks, Little Feat, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band.

Bieloh made an effort to bolster the Wednesday and Thursday because weekends have always been busy.

"We know we'll have people on Friday and Saturday," he said.

Bieloh also explained while the Jam has shown continual growth from year to year, the 2000 Jam was something of a breaking point.

"That 2000 Jam was as many people as we wanted to get," he said. From that point Bieloh and his staff have intentionally scaled things back slightly.

"We don't want to be bigger," Bieloh said, "we want to be better."

Lucky Jam 13 will feature 350 employees who have been working anywhere from two weeks to three months.

Security will — like in past Jams — be in full force. Fifteen to 30 Cass County Sheriff's deputies will be on hand as well as private security in the fairgrounds, parking areas and the campground. Bieloh noted many of the private security guards are off-duty police officers from across the region as well as the Twin Cities.

Bieloh added the benefit of off-duty law enforcement, as opposed to a private security, is approach. Law enforcement officers are skilled in calming situations or people through a conversation, some private firms have a history of quick physical action.

As of early Tuesday morning, Bieloh and his staff had nearly everything in order.

"We're a week ahead of schedule," Bieloh said. "Everyone's just so good at this, we have a great staff."

The main stage, which normally isn't completed until Tuesday or Wednesday, was set up Sunday.

Currently all the bands scheduled to appear are expected to attend and perform. One performer is already in the area, staying at a local resort.

Weather is also looking good. Tuesday morning's extended forecast showed only a slight chance for thundershowers later in the week. Typically rain during the day hasn't done much, if anything, to dampen that night's festivities.

Jam 13 will also include a 15-team softball tournament made up of Class C and D teams, including one from the Walker area. The Jam grounds feature highly groomed, professional quality softball fields that are also used by the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley softball program.

"The fields are in beautiful shape," Bieloh noted.

He explained some have expressed nervousness that health inspection at the Jam site is no longer operated by Cass County. Instead the Minnesota Department of Health will have five health inspectors checking the camping and food areas.

For those not camping at the Jam site, parking is available for free at Northern Lights Casino. A shuttle bus will then take Jammers to the concert grounds. Also, a 600 spot pay parking lot is also available at the Jam site. The cost is $10 per vehicle.

Friday night's lineup includes Edgar Winter, Santana's Gregg Rolie, Pat Benatar and John Fogerty. Saturday will include The Fixx, John Waite, Rick Springfield, and Huey Lewis and the News.

Additionally, a wide array of regional acts will appear in the Jam's saloon.