History of the Lakes Bluegrass Festival
The Lakes Bluegrass Festival was started in 2002 by Tim and Cindy Roggenkamp. They had been bluegrass musicians and fans for years and had a dream of bringing a bluegrass festival to the Lakes Area. They partnered with Ski Gull and had the festival at the base of the ski hill for 4 years (2002 – 2005). The first couple of years were quite sparse with just a few hundred in attendance. As the word got out and more national acts were added, the attendance jumped dramatically in years 3 and 4 to the point that another location needed to be secured.
After taking a year off, the festival found its new home at the Cass County Fairgrounds in Pine River in 2007. It remained a private enterprise by Tim and Cindy in partnership with the Cass County Fair Board, and the Chamber of Commerce. After 2 successful years and more growth, it became clear that a private/public partnership was not the best working model. So the festival was shelved again for a few years until a new 501(c)(3) organization was started by community leaders to purchase and operate the festival. The new entity was named the Pine River Area Foundation (PRAF) which also runs other events in the community.
The festival resumed at the Cass County Fairgrounds again in 2012 under the ownership of PRAF, while the Roggenkamps’ stayed on as Entertainment Directors. In 2019, PRAF purchased 24 acres of land ½ mile north of the fairgrounds, which was formerly a golf course. The plans were to hold the 2020 festival at the new location, however, COVID happened and that was postponed until 2021. Unfortunately, the first year at the new location was a big rain out and it became very obvious where we had drainage problems! Attendance was still good and everyone there had a great time, despite the rain.
The new location is named The Lakes Music and Events Park. Development has been going on since 2019, with lots of volunteer labor and materials. The Park now boasts over 200 campsite, most with electricity, a large 40 X 100 covered pavilion for the food court, dances and other activities, plus and 2 smaller smaller pavilions for workshops and entertainers. The PRAF vision for the park is to be more than just a home for the festival, but a regional venue for other music and community events.
2024 marks the 18th Annual Lakes Bluegrass Festival and the third festival at the new location.