National bands made the first Lakes Jam music festival popular, but it was the efforts of many lakes area residents that made it a success.
The outdoor music festival on Friday and Saturday, June 28-29, at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) exceeded expectations of event organizers as an estimated 3,500 people were in attendance to see featured bands like REO Speedwagon, The Kentucky Headhunters and Night Ranger.
And the first music festival had a local flavor as Lakes Jam owner, Jerry Braam and his family, are from Breezy Point. Also, many of the food vendors and volunteers were from the lakes area.
“We’re very happy with the execution of the concert,” Braam said Monday. “The staff was phenomenal. This was a local event with national talent. That’s why we called it Lakes Jam.”
Braam’s wife, Anna; son, Jake; and daughter, Katie, were all involved with the production of the concert. Braam said his family had a “few moments” to watch the concert, but their main focus was making sure the guests enjoyed themselves.
“I’m about executing ... making sure everyone is having a good time,” he said. “I did hear a lot of nice comments. It was also awesome that Kathy Bieloh (Moondance Jam owner from Walker) came down with a group of people. She gave us some advice. I also thank BIR for allowing us to partner with them on the property.”
The concert was initiated because of Braam’s role as BIR’S public safety director.
“Since I worked with BIR the past four years, we’ve always talked about having a concert,” he said. “But BIR wanted to stay true with its racing history. So I took over the concert idea. I wanted to bring a national flair to the event since BIR has a reputation as a national facility deserving of a national show.
“I was good at handling (security) for big crowds at BIR, but I had never put on a concert. I needed partners so I worked with some local restaurants, like Billy’s in Breezy Point, and people who worked with concerts, like (music promoters) Erik and Carolyn Huff.”
Braam also believed that the Brainerd lakes area would be an ideal location for the event.
“We figured if Detroit Lakes (WeFest) and Walker (Moondance) can support a concert of this size, then Brainerd should also be able to do it,” he said. “WeFest and Moondance really did set the tone for putting on large concerts. We have a large tourism area that is located in the center of the state. It’s another date on the calendar for people to come here.”
Braam hopes that Lakes Jam will continue to grow each year.
“This area was starving for a concert that they can call their own,” he said. “We want this to be an annual event, and we locked up the facility for many years and we have a lot of new sponsors who asked about next year. The key is to get good bands, and we will always have major headliners. We will have the same mix of music, but we will probably expand Friday to a full day next year.”
Braam also believes there will be growth in camping in the future.
“We used about 350 campsites,” he said. “The next step will be planning out the camping for next year to have reserved and general admission camping. We want to allow people to start ordering campsites by Thanksgiving."
Next year's Lakes Jam is scheduled for June 27-28, 2014.