Apart from seeing "Monsters of Rock" at Alpine Valley 20 + years ago, I really haven't attended a "music festival" of any sort, which has prevented my seeing acts that I now wish I had seen. On Saturday July 23rd I was invited to attend "Halfway Jam" in Royalton, MN and my wife and I jumped at the opportunity and I think we are very lucky we did.
Getting to Royalton from our home isn't like going to the store to get a gallon of milk, its more like a 7 + hour drive for us, but distance and time are just that and really did not factor into the opportunity. On that Saturday the trip to that venue made it worth while, the lineup was Stephen Pearcy, Kix and Skid Row (those were the three we were going to see) and can you really blame us.
To relegate each of the three bands to just a paragraph or two wouldn't do them justice so I will stick to the venue as a whole and save each of those three for individual posts. Now to the "meat of the potatoes" (that line still kills me), Halfway Jam is exactly what a music festival should be. Hands down, this goes into the annals of my music experience as one of the finest venues I have ever been to. Although they haven't figured out how to keep the stinking rain out of the middle of this enormous field that had been transformed into this behemoth event (its outdoors after all), I wouldn't trade it for the world.
There is a certain ambiance to an outdoor show, it almost feels like a bonfire, with cold beer, a bunch of friends and the tailgate of an old pickup supporting a boom box (a "boom box" is a rather cumbersome cassette player from the '80s for you youngsters) as it wails out some type of noise. There seems to be nothing confining us as we enjoy the cacophony of everything and everyone around us. The purveyors of Halfway Jam use that energy and have made this an event that I will attend again.
That's a bold statement for me, "I will attend again" as how can I be sure of the acts that will be there in the future and how can I be sure that it will be the same ambiance? I can't but I know that the level of talent that perform at this event are some great bands and I doubt that will change. As for the ambiance, Halfway Jam is home to two different stages, so as the main act ends, another band (it seemed like they were bands from the area) takes that stage. As for area talent, from what I heard while there, they were very, very good and most importantly, enjoyable.
Here's one for the ages, I actually thought the entire staff (that I had met of course) were friendly and very helpful (if you have ever visited my other blog you would understand). Everyone I met was friendly, and even when my stupidity rolled from my tongue with stupid questions, they were never phased.
What all day festival would it be without food and drink? I'll tell you what it would be, empty, just like the stomachs of those that did attend such a festival. I no longer drink alcohol, it messes with my medications (no I am not insane, as far as you know) and depending on the beverage I get a bit, uhm, mean, but my wife does so I can go off of her experiences. Despite the fact that 3/4's of the population of Minnesota were there (okay it seemed like it, sheesh), she didn't experience any real lines to refresh her beverage (man that sounds cheesy). I know the few times I wanted another soda, my experience was the same. Time to tackle the food, are you ready...
Have you ever gone to a movie, sporting event or a concert and purchased some type of food item and it be the single nastiest thing you have ever eaten? I know I have and when confronted with the need to eat something, I get nervous, really nervous at what I might encounter. We have all had the nasty nachos with slimy jalapenos, or hot dogs that look like a science experiment gone wrong, but alas this was not the case.
At the end of the evening, I went to a food stand and I ordered a ribeye sandwich and my level of fear began to build, then I got the thing and the fear went "poof". The sandwich was amazing and for it being so late in the evening the staff was friendly. Friendly, I think I know a fast food establishment in the very town I live in that should hire these people. The sandwich really was that good.
I refuse to get into a discussion about restrooms or how the grounds were (cluttered, filthy, etc.) because it was an OUTDOOR event. However I would be remiss if I didn't give my two cents about the second most important part of the show: the fans.
What can I say about the fans, they were drinking, many camped out so they smelled of sweat, stale beer and campfire smoke, and they were in amongst 3/4's of the population of Minnesota (keep up with me people, we have already discussed that)? Good question, I can say that I didn't see any fights (I'm sure there were some), but if there were security resolved that quickly. I suppose I could say that I was amazed at how well the fans were in between acts and how they seemed to transition from stage to stage. There were some that had partaken a little too much, and some that didn't partake at all but they all still had fun.
Halfway Jam 2011 was a blast! I have no qualms about any part of the experience and I WILL do it again and make sure that you try to get there as well. Kudos to all of those associated with the event.