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Muskie Days has evolved into music fest for all tastes

BY Sarah smith

As an economic development tool, skeptics might look askance at Nevis’ attempts to attract money.

The small burg has become a mecca for Minnesota musicians looking to make a name for themselves in a very small venue.

Their efforts – and the town’s – will be on full display next weekend when the 64th annual Muskie Days Festival and accompanying Music Festival get underway.

The festival will include the usual fishing contest, food, bouncy castles and kids’ activities, but it is the musical lineup that puts the festival on the map.

Thirty four bands will entertain on three stages throughout the weekend, July 25-26.

A third musical stage is set up this year, the Spirit Life Stage that will feature solely Christian music. The Terrapin Mural Stage and Big Muskie Stage will feature a variety of music, including folk, bluegrass, rock, country and reggae.

The festival has undergone change in those 64 years, from carnival rides to traditional fair fare.

But six years ago the city asked Brian Skinness, the owner of Terrapin Station, to see what he could do about a band for the Saturday night festivities.

It all grew from there.

Two years later Skinness booked a band for the Friday night festivities, too.

When Nevis School held its 100th anniversary all-school reunion in 2012, the town was hopping with guests, many of whom had not been home in decades.

The visitors took special note of all the musical talent that weekend, and Skinness said he heard praise from lots of people who hadn’t been to town in years. They encouraged him to keep going.

And going he has.

“We don’t have many touring bands,” he said. But in his role as musical director for the Station, he often met bands he thought might fill the bill for Muskie Days and extended an invitation.

“Certain kinds of persons connect deeply with musicians,” Skinness said.

This year, in addition to the music, there will be more food vendors, more activities.

The town has gussied itself up, festooned with flowers and small touches that make it seem like home.

Discovery Horse, the “essence of an equine Gestalt coaching session……taking your power back,” will offer two day sessions to train “thoughtful equestrians.”

“Your horse and human coach will assist you on your path to self-discovery through an experiential process of authentic connection, somatic awareness and the power of choice,” the program’s website states.

Friday’s activities include miniature golf, an all-day carnival and “Cinderella,” a youth musical.

Saturday is the kids fishing tournament from 9 to 10 a.m. on Lake Belle Taine, yoga, kids’ games and a cook-out.

An ice cream eating contest starts at 3 p.m. Saturday by the muskie, a grand parade and a kids parade at 5 and 6 p.m. that evening.

But if you like independent, original music, Nevis id the place to be.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364