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Soo Pass to host July 2 music fest

Two years after the 10,000 Lakes Festival went "on hiatus," a new music fest is coming to Detroit Lakes' Soo Pass Ranch this summer -- but the High Plains Festival is not intended to replace the 10KLF.

"This is its own event," said Bob Bliss, media director for the High Plains Festival, which opens on Saturday, July 2.

For one thing, unlike 10KLF and the Soo Pass's main summer event, the WE Fest country music festival, the High Plains Festival will include only one full day of music, said David Larson, the festival's promotions director.

Minnesota's own Trampled by Turtles will be the festival headliners, joined by four other up-and-coming bands including Pert Near Sandstone, Caroline Smith, Nathan Miller & Unstoppable Company, and Sovereign Sect.

"We are going to light up the Barn stage and let them rip it up for the evening on Saturday night, with additional music in the Saloon throughout the weekend," said Larson. "We want to provide a great place to stay and play at the Soo Pass Ranch over the Fourth of July weekend."

The High Plains Festival will also be more affordable than its predecessors, said Rand Levy, owner of Festivals And Concert Events (FACE), Inc., which hosts both WE Fest and its new companion at the Soo Pass.

"The big thing is trying to keep the cost down," he added.

The cost of a one-day music pass, for July 2 only, is $20, while a camping and music pass for the entire weekend, July 2-4, is $50. An early camping permit for the night of July 1 is $10, if purchased with the weekend pass, and a campground vehicle permit for the weekend is $40.

Visit the festival's official website at for more information.

'It's just good music'

Trampled by Turtles was the first act to step up and sign on for the new festival -- in fact, they were eager to do so, Bliss said.

"You always need to pick somebody to be a headliner that you can build something with," added Rand Levy, owner of Festivals And Concert Events (FACE), Inc., which hosts both WE Fest and its new companion at the Soo Pass.

"They (Trampled by Turtles) loved the idea -- they would love to be a regular with us."

And hopefully, they will bring a crowd of faithful fans along with them.

"They're an up and coming band, bursting onto the scene," Larson said. "They were No. 2 on the bluegrass charts for most of last year."

But while the band's style is most often classified as bluegrass, their music has defied categorization, venturing into the realms of rock, punk, indie, folk and string as well.

Just like the Duluth quintet that will headline the new High Plains Festival, the music filling the Barn and Saloon stages at the Soo Pass that weekend will be hard to fit into a single genre or style.

"It's just good music," said Levy.

Battle of the Bands

For a taste of what the newest festival on the music scene has to offer, come to The Aquarium in Fargo on Saturday, April 30, where a "Battle of the Bands" hosted by festival sponsor High Plains Reader will determine who gets to perform at a special festival pre-party on Friday, July 1.

Area bands interested in becoming part of the inaugural festival are invited to register at the festival website by 5 p.m. this Tuesday, April 12 (click on the "Battle of the Bands" link at the top of the main page).

Each band's fans, friends and family will be able to vote for them after their set, with the winners earning a performance slot at the July 1 kickoff party in the Soo Pass Saloon, according to Larson.

The winner also receives $200 for their performance at the High Plains Festival, as well as free festival camping and music passes for each member of the band. (Travel and lodging costs beyond the festival passes are not provided.)

Enjoying the holiday

After the Friday kickoff party and Saturday's music-palooza, the other two days of the High Plains Festival will emphasize camping at the Soo Pass's Northwoods Campground (family camping at the Lake Sallie Campground is also available), and enjoying all the other holiday weekend events the lakes area has to offer, Levy said.

"It should just be a nice addition to everything else that goes on around here that weekend," Levy said. "It's a nice place to come and vacation, and hopefully enjoy some good music too."

The plan is "to weave ourselves into the community's activities that weekend, rather than standing apart," he added.

The festival will also be a bit more low key than the Soo Pass's other occupant -- the maximum capacity of the High Plains Festival has been set at 3,500 people, while WE Fest typically draws in excess of 50,000.

"We think it will do about 2,000-2,500 (attendance) this year," said Bliss.

"It's designed to fit everybody into the Barn stage, saloon and patio area, and the Northwoods campground," Levy added. "This will be more intimate (than WE Fest)."

For more information, call Bob Bliss at 218-847-1681; David Larson at 218-234-6253, or visit the website at