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Moondance Jam
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Classic rock concertgoers find romance at festival

By Don Davis, The Forum

Saturday, July 17, 2004

WALKER, Minn. -- Moondance Jam is something special for Roxy Laine and Curt Holland.

Holland rode his motorcycle from his Barnesville home in a heavy rain to last year’s classic rock music festival. He arrived before his Barnesville friends got there with their camping equipment. A group of women from International Falls saw the cold biker nearby and invited him to their shelter.

Laine arrived to visit friends at the International Falls camping spot the next day, on her July 11 birthday. She and Holland met that day and have been dating since.

“It’s been the best thing for me, ever,” Laine said.

Laine, from Detroit Lakes, attended her first Moondance Jam last year. But she promised to celebrate at Moondance with Holland every year.

It’s not just romance, said Holland, a former drummer and Moondance veteran. “This is a real escape for us.”

Moondance jammers may be at a classic rock festival, but county music’s WE Fest near Detroit Lakes is a frequent topic of conversation.

Often, WE Fest is not spoken of favorably.

“It’s a better atmosphere than WE Fest,” offered Karen Johnson of Barnesville.

“It’s cleaner here,” added Mike Ness, also from Barnesville. “There are no bugs.”

“People are nicer,” Bob Collins of Horace, N.D., said about Moondance. “There are a lot less young ’uns here.”

Detroit Lake’s country festival, which runs Aug. 5-7 this year, is twice the size of Moondance.

There is plenty of security at Moondance, but owner and organizer Bill Bieloh said it seldom is needed.

With up to 20,000 rock music fans in the field southeast of Walker, there is potential for problems, according to Sgt. Scott Thompson of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department. But he praises Bieloh’s organization for keeping matters in hand.

Bieloh said the county provides the jam’s main security, with up to 30 deputies from the area. Campground security officers come from around the state.

The Walker police chief organizes concert security.

Bieloh estimated that up to 150 security people will work the festival before it is done early Sunday, with 120 them licensed police officers.

Thompson said security includes an undercover narcotics officer.