Gretchen Wilson

Gretchen Wilson, alongside special guest Jessie G, performed some of her country hits at the 2018 Lakefront Music Fest in Prior Lake.

Established stars and rising names will take the stage at the 10th annual Lakefront Music Fest at Prior Lake’s Lakefront Park next Friday and Saturday, July 12-13.

Originally known as the Lakefront Jazz & Blues Festival, it began as a free jazz event with just a couple thousand in attendance. This year, organizers expect acts will perform for around 17,500 people per night.

“It’s become a signature event of the community,” drawing people from around the metropolitan area and beyond, Mayor Kirt Briggs said, praising the host Prior Lake Rotary Club and the event’s primary sponsor, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives are set to open rock night Friday before Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artist Joan Jett & the Blackhearts take the stage. The Steve Miller Band, the headliner, will end the night with blues, jazz and rock & roll.

Saturday night, meanwhile, will highlight country music, beginning with Riley Green and followed by country singer-songwriter Chris Lane. Three-time Grammy award winning artist and Grand Ole Opry member Brad Paisley will conclude the weekend.

“We truly believe in low-priced tickets for our customers to enjoy quality headliners, so over the years we’ve been able to build up,” said Michelle Jirik, who co-chairs the festival and is secretary at the Rotary Club. “When we were deciding how to celebrate 10 years, we thought to have bigger headliners then what we’ve done in the past.”

The event is volunteer-run and receives hundreds of volunteers each night from local nonprofits such as the Greater Valley YMCA, Laker Athletic Booster Club and Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools parent-teacher organizations.

Proceeds from the event go back to their various programs. Some groups also help sell tickets and get a share.

Jirik on Wednesday said Saturday’s lineup was nearly sold out and Friday’s wasn’t far behind. A VIP option, which offers access to reserved front-stage seating, a hospitality tent and easy-access lines, was new to the festival last year and is now completely sold out Saturday night, she said.

The festival has raised more than $1 million in its ten years, according to the Rotary Club, providing for community projects such as the STRIVE program, Gateway Park and Bridges Area Learning Center. They’ve also contributed to global projects like digging wells in The Gambia.

“We definitely wanted to celebrate 10 years and thank the community for helping us raise money for our causes,” Jirik said. “So we went big this year with a big artist both on rock night and country night.”

General admission tickets are available online for $45 per night; VIP tickets are $125. Due to the possible sellout, tickets will not be sold at the gate. More information can be found at lakefrontmusicfest.com.

Frank Boyles, former city manager and longtime Rotarian, said the club a decade ago struggled to hold fundraising events that drew more than its own members. Two guys got the idea for a blues festival, and it grew from there.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor,” he said Wednesday. “It’s so much fun and exhausting.”

Dan Holtmeyer contributed to this report.

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