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Moondance Jam
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'Jammers' head for Moondance

by Robby Robinson
Bemidji Pioneer

Friday, July 14, 2006

Some come for the music, some for the party atmosphere and others, just to get away from the kids.

For whatever reason, 20,000 music fans taking part in the Biehlohs’ summer bash in Walker are bound and determined to have a good time.

The second day of the 15th annual Moondance Jam went on as scheduled Thursday as scorching temperatures gave way to a cooling afternoon thunderstorm. Despite the rain, campers made their way from the campgrounds to the concert area to see the major acts.

After 15 years, things moved along very easily, said promoter Bill Beiloh. Traffic problems were nonexistent as cars moved along smoothly. Many local “jammers” know the best way to enter the concert grounds from Highway 200 is from the east. Most, however, if they’re not camping, park in the lot at Northern Lights Casino and take the shuttle.

Beiloh said campground entry has also been addressed, with prepaid campers having the option of getting in Tuesday night. About 3,500 of approximately 9,500 campers showed up early, nearly eliminating the lineup Wednesday that used to take place.

With temperatures expected to reach the 90s each day of the music festival, Beiloh said they were taking extra precautions by having sprinklers open around the campground and water available in the concert area. They were also giving away bottled water to people who looked like they needed it.

“We don’t want anyone to get sick out here, so we’re watching people and making sure we have plenty of water readily available,” he said.

Everybody at the jam has purchased a four-day pass. Beiloh said they didn’t sell one-day passes this year, mainly because of complexity of managing the gate. With four days and different wristbands needed for different ages, they needed eight different arm bands, in addition to the four-day bands.

“We may not do this again. It was just something we thought we’d try,” he said. As of Thursday, he said there were about 1,000 passes left for sale.

For a group of campers from Lawrence Lake, Minn., everybody had his or her own reason for attending the jam.

“I come for the party atmosphere,” said Kathy Johnston, who is at Moondance Jam for her fifth year. “You get away from the real world and spend time with friends.”

Rhonda Neilsen added with a smile, “I like to get away from the kids for a few days.”

“This is the best place you can go anywhere to hear some real classic rock music,” Brian Deal said. “That’s what I like.”

For whatever reason, Moondance Jam – the 1992 party that has become the premier classic rock festival of the Midwest – is the place to be in July.

The main stage lineup for today and Saturday is as follows:


-- 4:30 p.m. – Outlaws

-- 7 p.m.-Kenny Wayne Shepherd

-- 9 p.m.-The Bangles

-- 11 p.m. – Poison


-- 4:30 p.m.- Y&T

-- 7 p.m. – John Kay and Steppenwolf

-- 9 p.m. – Doobie Brothers

-- 11 p.m. - Heart