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Moondance Jam
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350 workers help to keep Moondance running smoothly

by Robby Robinson
Bemidji Pioneer

Friday, July 13, 2007

Except for the frantic work going on behind the stage where bands are continuously setting up and taking down and the misguided attempts of one individual to crash the gate, day two of Moondance Jam, “Sweet 16,” went off without a hitch Thursday.

There is an obvious financial impact on business in the city of Walker when 20,000 people show up for four or five days on the second weekend of July each year, but no less for the 350 individuals, most of whom from the Walker area, who find employment for the summer working at the jam.

Dave Wenz of Walker attended the past three years with his girlfriend, Diane Sechem, who is an eight-year veteran of working security at the jam.

Both gave the same reasons for returning and working, and neither mentioned the music.

“It’s certainly the people,” said Wenz. “You meet so many great people who are just out to have some relaxation and have a good time. There’s just an attitude of nice here.”

And although there have been some minor problems over the years, for the most part there are few major problems with the crowds.

Security chief Mark Kimmerle, a 14-year veteran of Moondance Jam, said that some of the best officers from around the region have been accumulated to keep a strong presence around the campgrounds and concert arena. Many of the security officers are off-duty police officers or deputies from all over northern Minnesota.

After the first few years, the Moondance Jam management decided to enlist regular law enforcement officers to back up the security crew.

Currently, just a few Cass County deputies are on the Moondance Jam crew, but the county does have a strong presence on and off the concert grounds, Kimmerle said.

“People come here from all over,” he said. “It’s ‘Minnesota nice’ at its best. They come here for the great musical lineup and then discover there’s more than just the music, but the experience itself.”

He said many people have been coming here almost as long as he has and are especially represented in the campgrounds.

“Yes, they come the first year and the next year they bring their friends and get another campsite. Now some have 10-13 sites and a couple dozen campers in the same area,” Kimmerle said.

“It’s their annual get-together and they have way too much fun,” he added, laughing.

Following Kansas, day two of Moondance Jam featured Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Cheap Trick and REO Speedwagon.

Tickets were still available for Friday and Saturday with Rick Derringer on stage at 4:30 p.m., The Fixx at 7 p.m., Smash Mouth at 9 p.m. and The New Cars at 11 p.m.