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Country Fest is seeing record crowds

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Even with record rainfalls on day one and high winds that blew down tents and canopies and even damaged two vehicles and a trailer on day two, Moondance Jammin' Country Fest has gone on without a pause in the music, attracting record crowds, both in the concert arena and in the campgrounds.

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Tornados warnings were issued for areas both to the southwest and the north of the Moondance Jam campgrounds on Thursday, and heavy rains fell for much of the late afternoon and early evening, but as the major acts prepared to take the stage at 7 p.m., the rain ceased.

"This has been a hearty bunch of people," said owner and promoter Bill Bieloh. "Usually the rock fans at Moondance Jam are pretty unmoved by the elements, but this group of country fans has proven to be pretty dedicated, considering what they have had to put up with."

Bielhoh said he was quite surprised by the sheer numbers who showed up for this, the fourth Jammin Country Fest. Today's line-up, highlighted by Sammy Kershaw, Kellie Pickler and Zac Brown Band, is virtually a sellout, however Bieloh said there still some single-day tickets available.

"A lot of people are here just to see one or two artists," noted Bieloh. "Zac Brown is the major attraction, this year...no question."

He said they were expecting a ten percent increase in concert-goers this year over 2009, as that had been the increase each of the last two years. Instead, nearly all the tickets had been sold and the north reserved campground had to be opened to meet the number of new campers. Bieloh said he felt many people see the outdoor music festival as a bargain, when you think about how much money you can spend on a vacation. The result is more people camping.

While rains and the threat of storms threatened campers and music fans Thursday, Friday's winds - gusting to 40-miles-per-hour did damage to many tents and even a few vehicles.

"It's all part of the camping experience," laughed gate attendant Kristan Pollock, of Walker. "Campers seem to take it all in stride. We've had tents blowing around the grounds, trashcans flying and one gust that blew the meet-and greet-shelter over a 12-foot fence and took out a concession stand."

Power was out at the site for approximately two hours Friday.

For the Zac Brown fan club from Grand Forks, ND, nothing has deterred them from their dedication.

"We can't wait," said Cathy Meshiski of Grand Forks. "We'll be jammin' until we hear Zac Brown or the cows come home!"

Bieloh said he just hopes, for the sakes of the workers, the bands and the fans the weather settles down for the last day of the festival.

Saturday line-up

3 p.m. - Chuck Wicks

5 p.m. - Colt Ford

7 p.m. - Sammy Kershaw

9 p.m. - Kellie Pickler

11 p.m. - Zac Brown Band

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