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Father, son bond at Moondance Jam

Noah Bitz eagerly awaits the day's first band performance at Moondance Jam. Noah and his father, Wayne, are appreciative of the time they share at the rock 'n' roll festival. Pioneer Photo/Jake Urban1 / 2
Cracker kicked off Moondance Jam Thursday under a rainy drizzle, which did not deter the fans of the Jam. Pioneer Photo/Tammie Richter2 / 2

WALKER -- Just south of Walker, there is place where old school buses with torn-out seats become decorated campers.

A place where campsites have their own personality, flair and themes such as "Two Tickets to Paradise," which is furnished with palm trees, beach chairs, inflatable monkeys and giant canvasses imitating the sunset.

It's place where people of all ages can bond over campfires and rock 'n' roll.

Moondance Jam.

While walking through the massive complex of campsites, buildings and stages one can find tents, campers, RVs and kiosks selling anything from taco salads to elephant ears.

And on Thursday afternoon, a father and son could be found playing catch with a baseball on a grassy knoll near the main stage.

"I want him to have fun - that's what it's all about," said Wayne Bitz.

Wayne lives in Bemidji and is spending five days and four nights at Moondance Jam with his 14 year old son, Noah.

This marks the 15th year that Wayne has attended the rock festival and the second year with his son.

"I really like the variety of bands and camping for five days," Noah said. "Just hanging out and having fun."

For Wayne, it's easy for him to pinpoint why he comes back year after year to the festival.

"It's the music, it's the camping, it's the once-a-year time with friends," Wayne said.

"I like to come out here and see all the bands," Noah said.

But most of all, Wayne said he believes that it's the time here with his son that he cherishes.

"Having him here experiencing the things that I enjoy - now that's special," Wayne said.

And as he talks, a drummer begins to warm up on stage with an enveloping thumping of his bass drum. The vibrations it causes are like a thundering heartbeat.

"These are the years I'll never get again," Wayne said smiling. "And this is the one thing I'm going to keep doing until I can't anymore."

What is mainly known for being a good time can also serve as inspiration, and last year, Wayne learned that firsthand.

After hearing Don Felder, a former lead guitarist for The Eagles, Noah decided that he was going to try something new.

"We had an acoustic guitar at home that nobody was using," Wayne recalled, "and Noah said 'I want to learn.'"

Wayne soon signed his son up for lessons, and a year later, Noah now has his own electric guitar and continues to play.

Wayne laughed at the irony of the possibility that he may be watching his son up on that big black stage someday.

But for now, Noah finds himself under the mentorship of experienced Moondance attendees.

"They like to see the youth out here," Wayne said, "and there are a lot of older people waiting to take him under his wing."