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Moondance Jam: Annual tradition for many

Journey vocalist Arnel Pineda performs with the band at Moondance Jam Thursday evening. Tickets are still available for Saturday night when Yes and Asia are scheduled to perform. Pioneer Photo/ Robby Robinson

WALKER - Despite near record cold weather, the 18th annual Moondance Jam attracted better than expected crowds, said co-owner and promoter Kathy Bieloh, especially Thursday night when Sheryl Crow and Journey headed the all-star line-up.

It appears that northern Minnesota classic rock music fans are not deterred by the cold, noted one of the security guards on duty Thursday. An estimated 8,000-10,000 people were camped, with temperatures dipping to the 40s and 15-25 mile-an-hour winds whipping across what was once a family farm.

"We were really worried because ticket sales had been slow all year but approximately 14,000-15,000 fans were on the concert grounds by the time Kansas finished playing and Sheryl Crow was to go on stage," said Bieloh. "It was one of our best days ever."

Bieloh said she works year around with her husband, Bill, handling the venders, doing the accounting and answering the many e-mails that come in. In an interview, she wanted to dispel on myth that has circulated about the first Mondance Jam 18 years ago.

It was not a birthday party for Kathy, organized by Bill. Her birthday is in March, she said.

"We had this farmland that belonged to Bill's father and wanted to do something with it," she said. "First we started Moondance Riding Stable and then, with some reservation, decided to hold a small music festival there. We advertised it and about 200 people showed up - mostly family and friends."

Each year the event got bigger and bigger.