Country Fest Minnesota '06 to be held in June in Turtle River

TURTLE RIVER -- Country Fest Minnesota '06 is expected to draw thousands of country music fans from across northern Minnesota and beyond to the green, rolling grounds of a local golf course this summer.

TURTLE RIVER -- Country Fest Minnesota '06 is expected to draw thousands of country music fans from across northern Minnesota and beyond to the green, rolling grounds of a local golf course this summer.

The spotlight will shine on several big names in country music during the new festival, which will be held June 22-24 10 miles north of Bemidji at the former Castle Highlands Golf Course in Turtle River.

Country Fest Minnesota '06 is being presented by Bemidji Entertainment, which is owned by Frank Chrz and his son Justin. The father-and-son duo is also in the process of purchasing the golf course, which they will rename Turtle River Golf & Entertainment Center.

"It's a beautiful location to spend the weekend," Frank Chrz said. "And we've got a No. 1 line-up."

The national country music acts to take the stage at the festival are Jo Dee Messina, Trace Adkins, Lee Ann Womack, Craig Morgan, Phil Vassar, Hot Apple Pie and Little Big Town.


Phil Vassar and Lee Ann Womack will perform Thursday night. Hot Apple Pie, Little Big Town and Jo Dee Messina will perform Friday night. Craig Morgan and Trace Adkins will perform Saturday night.

Also, the regional bands Fire Line, Whiskey Johnson, Tami Lee, Colt 45 and Trashville will perform during the afternoons.

Six hundred on-site campsites will be available during Country Fest Minnesota '06 on a first-come, first-served basis. On-site camping is limited to 2,000 people each night. Campers are welcome to show up a day before the festival.

The tickets, which are being sold as three-day event tickets, are on sale now at early bird prices. General admission tickets cost $90, or $140 with camping, at early bird prices. And, at early bird prices, V.I.P. tickets - which include complimentary meals and beverages, special seating and close parking - cost $325, or $450 with camping.

Tickets may be purchased online at, by calling 444-9634 or (877) 813-2396, or at Turtle Creek Saloon in Turtle River. A total of 12,500 tickets are available.

"This is the first time an event like this has been held in the Bemidji area," Frank Chrz said.

Both he and Justin - who own Turtle Creek Saloon together - are familiar with the country music industry and feel very comfortable holding an event this size, Frank Chrz said. Their saloon features live country music every weekend.

During Turtle River Days last August, Turtle Creek Saloon held an outdoor concert that was so popular that several people suggested it be done on a larger scale, Frank Chrz said. He said Bemidji Entertainment began planning Country Fest Minnesota '06 later that month.


"Here we are today with a full line-up," Frank Chrz added.

Surrounded by trees in a bowl-shaped area, the golf course's driving range will be the home of the Country Fest Minnesota '06 stage. Frank Chrz noted that the natural setting should help control the sound level from the festival.

"A lot of thought went into this location for a country fest," he said. "It's very, very conducive for an event like this."

He noted that the festival will be family-oriented. He also said it will have concessions and souvenir stands, besides the live music from 2-11 p.m. each day and camping.

And, he said, he envisions holding the festival annually.

"That's why we're going to work hard to make sure this is a complete success," he said.

He said Country Fest Minnesota '06 will benefit the Bemidji area in many ways - including boosting the local economy.

"It's going to bring new people to the area, which is going to help promote tourism," Frank Chrz added.


He said the festival will also provide many short-term job opportunities as grounds workers, servers, security officers, parking attendants and medical personnel will be needed.

Frank Chrz said he expects a good local turnout, as well as attendance by country music fans throughout Minnesota and even out-of-state. He said tickets have already been sold to people from North Dakota and Wisconsin.

What To Read Next
Get Local