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10,000 Lakes Festival starts with fan jam in Detroit Lakes

Michelle "Mozy" Oliver of Mankato, Minn., walks along the line of cars waiting on Highway 59 west of Detroit Lakes to get into the 10,000 Lakes Festival camping facilities shortly after the grounds opened at 10 a.m. Wednesday. John Lamb / The Forum

Hours before they cheered for the first band of the night on Wednesday, 10,000 Lakes Festival fans announced their presence around the Detroit Lakes-area music event.

Thousands of fans lined the shoulder of Highway 59 north and south of the festival grounds at Soo Pass Ranch, just west of town. The southbound shoulder was lined 1.5 miles back to County Road 6, while the northbound shoulder was filled back about a half-mile south.

The line didn't seem to bother the concertgoers, who took advantage of the slow-moving lines to get out and stretch their legs, or chat with other fans.

At the Tesoro gas station at the intersection of Highway 59 and County Road 6, fans used portable toilets and picked up provisions.

Michelle "Mozy" Oliver of Mankato, Minn., took advantage of the facilities. She and her friends got in line at 7 a.m. after driving through the night. Their early rise didn't mean a prime camping spot, however, when they found out all the Lake Sallie passes were gone. It was all good when a friend called later with passes, and the travelers got back in line.

Ticket buyers also took advantage of the traffic backup, asking people if they had extra passes to sell.

Not everyone enjoyed this jam. One frustrated area commuter in the bottleneck out of the Tesoro parking lot slammed her hands on her steering wheel in frustration, yelling, "C'mon! I just want to get to work!"

* A group of six from Fargo-Moorhead were first in line, but they weren't first to arrive. Jessica Thompson-Leitch said she, her husband, Phil, and four friends arrived at 5:30 a.m., behind a handful of other cars. Those earlier birds jumped the gun, however, and parked past the marked spot to line up and were sent to the back of the line, leaving Thompson-Leitch and her friends the first to get in.

* The music kicked off with a bang. Or make that a boom. Whether it was opening-night testing with the sound system or not enough people on the concrete slab in front of the main stage, the first few songs by British rockers Gomez knocked fans back.

The problem was quickly corrected as fans moved toward the stage, and the rest of the group's 80-minute set was a smash.

Widespread Panic carried the crowd's enthusiasm, starting around 8 p.m. and playing a set long on jams.

* Festival organizers have noted their desire to broaden the fan base. With a variety of acts, that looks to be happening, but the music isn't the only attraction.

A group affiliated with Major League Baseball set up shop, or cages rather, in the field. A batting cage allowed concertgoers to try to tee off against a pitching machine while at another kiosk a backdrop timed pitches.

A large trailer offered fans a chance to play baseball video games, while another section showed the actual game between the Minnesota Twins and the Oakland A's, but with the Twins down 15-1, no one wanted to watch.

A staffer said music fans who stop by with authentic MLB gear will get upgraded to VIP passes.

* A camera crew from CBS' "Sunday Morning" is on hand, filming shows by Wednesday and Friday night headliners Widespread Panic as well as tonight's featured act, Wilco.

If you go

* What: 10,000 Lakes Festival featuring Wilco, Atmosphere, Junior Brown, Mason Jennings and more

* When: Music starts at noon today and goes into early Friday morning

* Where: Soo Pass Ranch, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

* Info: Single-day tickets are still available for $85. Go to