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Music is back at Buena Vista; Well-known ski area brings back music festival for second year

George McCorkell of the band The May North performs at last year’s inaugural Buena Vista Music Festival. Courtesy photo by Aaron Eickhorst

BEMIDJI -- The (ski) hills will be alive with the sound of music this weekend.

On Friday, the Buena Vista Ski Area will transform itself for the second annual Buena Vista Music Festival, smack dab on the Continental Divide.

The two-day outdoor festival will feature 17 bands from across Minnesota, as well as craft and food vendors, and opportunities for outdoor camping.

The notable location of the festival makes it a true Minnesota experience, organizers said, as the outdoor stage area is located on the back side of the main Continental Divide hill that overlooks Larson Lake.

There also be a wide range of bands/music to appeal to a variety of music enthusiasts.

"All of our bands are from Minnesota. A lot of them come from the Minneapolis area. The music type is blues, funk, reggae, a little bit of hip-hop, and rock 'n' roll, so there's a wide variety of music options," festival coordinator Lisa Thomas said.

"We have a couple of returning bands from last year, but many new bands will be playing this year, too."

The gates open at noon Friday with music starting at 5 p.m.

Two stages will be set up, a main stage and a side stage. The side stage will feature some of the smaller acts, who will perform for a half hour between shows on the main stage. That way, there's always music playing, organizers said.

The Big Tree Bansai band, who blend Americana, alt-country and vintage rock, kicks off the weekend at 5 p.m. Friday. The headliner on Friday night is Jon Wayne and The Pain starting at 11 p.m. The group mixes a variety of music genres including, reggae, rock, and electronic dub to create their own sound.

Saturday is also filled with music and starts at 1 p.m., with the final performance by hip-hop and pop band "More Than Lights."

Cost is $30 for one day or $50 for weekend passes along with parking available for $10 and a free camp area for those who wish to stay overnight. Tickets are available at the gate Friday and Saturday or can be purchased early at Outerworld in downtown Bemidji and online at

Breakfast will also be available in the Buena Vista chalet for $5 per person from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday.

To attend the festival, you must be at least 18 years of age or accompanied by an adult. However, the festival is really for people of all ages, and Thomas recommends music-loving families to not hesitate to bring along the children.

"We want the event to be family friendly, just a fun atmosphere for everyone. It's not like a WE Fest or anything crazy. We don't want that image," said Thomas. "Last year was really great. Everybody had a good time. There were people of all ages out here, so we're hoping for a good turnout this year."

Buena Vista Music Festival

Friday (Main Stage):

5 to 6:30 p.m.: BigTree Bansai

7 to 8:30 p.m.: Charlie Parr

9 to 10:30 :Mikel Wright & The Wrongs

11 p.m. to 1 a.m.: Jon Wayne & The Pain

Friday (Side Stage):

6:30 to 7 p.m.: The Seasonals

8:30 to 9 p.m.: Dan Will and Aaron Schnackenburg

Saturday (Main Stage):

1 to 2 p.m.: The May North

2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Kitchi Boogie

4 to 5 p.m.: Nathan Miller & The Unstoppable Co.

5:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Yasen Marie

7 to 8:30 p.m.: HotBlackFunky

9 to 10:30 p.m.: The Premiums

11 p.m. to 1 a.m.: More Than Lights

Saturday (Side Stage):

2 to 2:30 p.m.: Pelican Railroad

3 to 4 p.m.: Hog Rooster

5 to 5:30 p.m.: Catching Clarity

6:30 to 7 p.m.: Folk Stomp

For more information, visit