JamFest crowds sizzle despite rain and drizzle

Second event deemed a success after bringing good numbers for both days of the expanded two-day event

by Jim Boyle
The second annual Otsego JamFest, which kicked off with national acts Travis Tritt and The Marshall Tucker Band, built up a head of steam on Friday night and kept rolling Saturday for the two-day event.

It’s estimated that more than 3,200 — maybe as many as 3,500 — concert-goers filed into the show on Friday night.

Travis Tritt delivers the WoW factor at the Otsego JamFest

A thunderstorm across the Mississippi River, which took down the Elk River Relay for Life on the track of the Elk River High School football field, only delayed the Travis Tritt show. It threatened to pull the plug on The Marshall Tucker Band when lightning cut through the nighttime skies, but the show went on and the storm skirted the event.  The Marshall Tucker Band finished in stunning fashion with a lengthy version of “Can’t You See” that included plenty of audience involvement.

Doug Gray, lead singer of the band, brought up on stage a member of the Minnesota Air National Guard who he and his bandmates met while on tour in northern Iraq.April Hewitt came to the Otsego show with her family. The Lonsdale woman saw a billboard advertising the show three days after she returned from her fourth deployment.

The Hewitts grew up listening to the band’s music. Hewitt says she’s not one who likes a lot of attention, but the recognition the band gave her for her service meant a lot to her and her family.

“My dad teared up,” Hewitt said of the family’s chance to meet up with the band and talk. “That’s only the second time I saw my dad do that.”

Hewitt said she wished she would have publicly thanked her family when she got up on stage. She said they have done a lot for her while she has been deployed.

Gray also brought up Ben Skinner after hearing he was the winner of the Taste of Elk River’s karaoke contest. Skinner had performed “Can’t You See,” at the Taste of Elk River. Gray gave him a microphone to sing the second chorus of the song. It was a dream come true for the Elk River man and huge MTB fan.

“He did a good job,” Gray told the Star News after the show.

The Travis Tritt concert was delayed to make sure the worst of the storm would avoid the concert, and he did not disappoint. He performed a six-song encore, to the delight of the audience, some of whom danced to his music.

JamFest crowds

“We expected a great show, but Tritt’s energy, charisma and the length of the show exceeded our expectations,” said Todd Rick, a co-owner of Denny’s restaurant in Otsego and one of the event coordinators.

The second day of the Otsego JamFest turned out as many people throughout the course of the day, but many didn’t stay through some storms that occurred.

Rick credited the sponsors, the volunteers, staff and the community for making the Otsego JamFest a success. “We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help,” he said.

Plans for next year are already in the works. One thought is to bring in national acts again, but to have Friday night be dedicated to country music and Saturday dedicated to rock music. And organizers still want the community and family aspect to grow, too.

“There are some interesting possibilities,” Rick said.