Volunteers Make the Lakefront Music Fest a Success

by | Jun 2023

Crowd from the Lakefront Music Fest at sunset.

Photos: Lakefront Music Fest

Volunteers make the Lakefront Music Fest successful for concertgoers and the community.

In its 14th year, the Lakefront Music Fest has become an annual summer tradition in Prior Lake. Featuring two nights of music—one rock ‘n’ roll and one country—and big names—past performers include Brad Paisley, Sammy Hagar and Styx—the concert is more than just a summer music festival, it’s a labor of love put on by the Rotary Club of Prior Lake. It’s successful thanks to the help of hundreds of community volunteers, and it raises thousands of dollars to support local nonprofit organizations, schools and other Rotary Club initiatives.

Brad Paisley performed at the 10th annual Lakefront Music Fest in 2019.

Brad Paisley performed at the 10th annual Lakefront Music Fest in 2019.

This year’s event features headliners Darius Rucker on July 14 and Lynyrd Skynryd on July 15. When the musical acts take the stage this July, it’ll represent the culmination of about 18 months of work, starting with the talent search that began about a year and a half before the show and finishing with five days of physical labor, converting a city park to a music venue, and two days of cleanup to transform concert venue back into beautiful city park. Last year, there were 1,800 volunteers helping out throughout the weekend, says Michelle Jirik, Lakefront Music Fest event director
and Rotary Club member.

The festival comes together thanks to a steering committee of 15 Prior Lake Rotary Club members who meet monthly year-round and 14 different committees led by 28 co-chairs. In addition to the Rotary Club members who volunteer their time for the event, community members and groups from local nonprofit organizations help out at the event. Last year, the Rotary Club presented checks totaling more than $82,000 to 33 volunteer groups that helped out at the event. “It’s a great way to see so many people come together and give back,” says Doug Gesme, the event production chair, who is in charge of making sure everything from the stage to the portable toilets are where they should be.

The very first talk of the music festival began in 2007, when Rotary Club members Dave Card and Shaun Naya started batting around ideas for a new fundraiser. Inspired by their own love of music, they landed on the idea of a music festival, and, in 2008, they started researching music festivals. The first Lakefront Music Fest launched on July 10, 2010, as a jazz and blues event. “The vibe is the sun and the music,” Card says, noting that the first year had decent attendance.

But the festival continued to evolve. A few years later, the Rotary Club made the decision to offer two nights of music and fell into the country night/rock night formula that has proved successful for the past decade. Five years ago, Card worked with other members to develop a VIP lounge, which offers access to the front of the stage, catered food options and a private bar among other perks. This year, the $225/night VIP tickets were the first to sell out. “It’s kind of like having kids,” Card says of watching Lakefront Music Fest over the years. “You create something in the beginning, but lots of people have influence over the outcome.”

Crowd sitting on a hill watching the Lakefront Music Fest.

Lakefront Music Fest
July 14–15; Lakefront Park, 5000 Kop Parkway SE, Prior Lake

At press time, a few tickets remained for the Friday Night PIT Pass and general admission on Friday and Saturday, but the fest typically sells out in advance.

Rotary Club of Prior Lake

Sounds of Summer

Here’s a sampling of more live music coming to local parks and performance venues in June and July. Check websites for the complete lineups:

Caponi Art Park

1220 Diffley Road, Eagan

This outdoor sculpture park offers a variety of musical experiences.

  • June 18: Minnesota Sinfonia
  • July 14–23: Theatre 55 presents A Chorus Line.

Eagan Market Fest

1501 Central Parkway, Eagan

Pick up produce from local farmers, finds from local makers and dinner, plus enjoy live music. Summer markets are 4–8 p.m. Wednesdays June 7–August 30.

  • June 7: Matt Yetter and Good Morning Bedlam
  • June 14: Comes a Time and Moonlight Serenaders Big Band
  • June 21: The Stand Ups
  • June 28: Bluedog
  • July 12: AJ Spoff and Rockin’ Hollywoods
  • July 19: Costello & Hipps and The 22nd Row
  • July 26: Lee Engele & Friends

Live at the Lake

19720 Juno Trail, Lakeville

The new bandshell at Caperson Park is home to a weekly summer music series. Pick up dinner from food trucks. Free concerts are scheduled for 6–8 p.m. Wednesdays June 21–August 30.

  • June 21: Mick Sterling presents A Billy Joel State of Mind
  • June 28: Drums of Navarone
  • July 5: The Look
  • July 12: Lakeville Area Community Band
  • July 19: Chad Johnson Music
  • July 26: Ballet Royale Minnesota, Socaholix

Music in Kelley Park

6855 Fortino St., Apple Valley

The Apple Valley Arts Foundation celebrates the 25th anniversary of its popular summer music series with free concerts 6:30–8:30 p.m. Fridays.

  • June 16: Salsa del Soul
  • June 23: The Alex Rossi Band
  • June 30: Michael Monroe
  • July 7: Dakota Valley Symphony: Movie Magic
  • July 14: Lori Dokken presents I Am Women Hear Me Roar!
  • July 21: Hitchville
  • July 28: J.D. Steele and The MacPhail Community Youth Choir

Mystic Amphitheater and Showroom

2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake

It’s no secret that Mystic Lake attracts big names year round in both its indoor showroom and its outdoor amphitheater. 3 Doors Down performs June 24 in the Mystic Showroom.

Prior Lake Music in the Park

5000 Kop Parkway SE, Prior Lake

Food trucks will be onsite at this free outdoor concert.

  • June 9: Mitchell Hall and The Tennessee Trio

Wild Nights

13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley

The Minnesota Zoo stays open late for the 21 and older crowd with three stages of live music. Tickets are sold for individual nights, and ticket packages are also available. Join the fun from 6–10 p.m. Thursdays through September 14. Here’s the music line-up:

  • June 8: Maria Isa, Malamanya and others.
  • June 22: Chastity Brown, FenixDion and others.
  • July 6: The Cactus Blossoms, Barbaro and others.
  • July 20: Joyann Parker Band, Corey Media & Brothers and others.

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