Weather didn’t keep a good RecFest down

Lesley Toth
Lesley Toth

The unseasonably cool weather we have been experiencing the past week or more has made for a nice reprieve for sleeping, but it has certainly put a damper on festivities throughout the region as many outdoor music festivals and other traditionally summertime events have had to adapt to more fall-like conditions.

I was thoroughly impressed by the group of hard-core RecFest attendees who stuck it out, cold, wind, rain and all, to bunker down in Rec Park last weekend for the full bluegrass experience. As I tried my best to mitigate the uncontrollable shivers so as not to blur the photos I was taking, I couldn’t help but think how amazing the fans and participants were to brave the chilly temperatures and gusting winds to show their support for this annual music festival.

My husband (a musician himself) recently returned from a trip to Chicago to see one of his all-time favorite music-makers, Bjork, who is known the world-over for her original sound and entertaining on- and off-the-stage antics. The show was canceled half-way through due to a little rain and lightning.

Not here in Milaca. I wonder if any of the much smaller, lesser known bands even thought about canceling their appearance due to the uncooperative weather. Ticket prices for the local bluegrass festival were a lot less expensive than those purchased to see a world-class act. Yet, the bands, organizers and jammers alike were sure to give each and every wristband holder more for their money.

Bright smiles and cheery eyes peeked out from underneath winter jackets and thick, colorful quilts as the weekend quickly faded.

Although each lead vocalist attempted to joke about the September air, it was clear that pickin’ is a whole lot tougher in 40 degrees than 70. Yet, the music played on, the fans cheered and applauded, and the musicians gave it their all. I’m not a betting person, but I’d wager those bands and fans would have played right through snow storms had the mercury dipped just a bit further to the freezing point.

That’s what makes these smaller outdoor music events like RecFest so much more exciting than shelling out hundreds of dollars in tickets and travel expenses for big-name acts. The musicians aren’t in it for the cover of the latest entertainment magazine. They aren’t lining up morning talk show appearances to detail how “rough” it was to play through a little rain. They don’t have the disposable income to replace all of their gear should a stray lightning bolt take it all down in one, tragic blow. Yet they pack up their fiddles, guitars, amplifiers and families every weekend, all summer long — just to hear the roar of the crowd, just once.

Maybe it’s our Minnesota toughness that lets us soldier through a little crummy weather. Maybe it’s the sheltered city life of Chicago that evokes such drastically different outcomes. Personally, I think it’s the homegrown, “we’re all in this together” mentality that comes with enjoying music made by real people.

Hats off to all those who managed to pull off yet another successful RecFest, despite the frigid temperatures. I fully expect a few 80 degree days in November to make up for this past weekend, but, unlike the nasty winds on Saturday, I’m not holding my breath.