The decision in March to postpone Twin Cities Summer Jam, an outdoor music festival held in July at Shakopee’s Canterbury Park, was an easy one said the festival’s CEO Jerry Braam.

“We just felt right away it was the right thing to do,” he said. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

It meant losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars and taking a little flack from those who thought the decision was too hasty, but with no end in sight for the global pandemic, it was the only logical move and one that was rooted in science, Braam said.

Twin Cities Summer Jam was far from the only festival to cancel its 2020 festivities; Lakefront Music Fest held annually along the shores of Prior Lake was canceled this year as were most large gatherings planned across the Twin Cities region.

“From county fairs to casinos, (they all) looked at us and said ‘What are you guys going to do?’” Braam said. Organizers decided it was time to announce and did so last week, confirming Twin Cities Summer Jam will be returning in July 2021 with headlining acts Lynyrd Skynyrd, Zac Brown Band and Carrie Underwood.

Summer Jam’s announcement arrived days after Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current and the Walker Art Center announced the 2021 Rock the Garden, held at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, is canceled due to the uncertainties of planning a large event during a pandemic.

Would-be Summer Jam attendees were hopeful for 2021 dates. When the decision to cancel this year’s festival was made, 7,000 ticket holders opted to keep their tickets instead of requesting a refund, Braam said.

“We’re coming out of the gate with 7,000 tickets sold,” he said. “If for some crazy reason we’re all wrong, we’re going to refund your money.”

Revamping the business

Braam said while he’s aware the pandemic is very much still “alive and well,” the decision to bring the festival back was made with input from the festival’s leadership board and medical experts who said that holding such an event — up to 40,000 could attend the festival at the race track — could be feasible by summer next year.

“Part of our decision-making is giving something for people to look forward to,” Braam said. “That’s kind of why we announced now. We’ve lived through a lot of tough times the last six months.”

Ahead of the announcement, festival planners have been working on how next year’s event will look different for attendees. Concertgoers will be able to “spread out” more, the VIP area will include benches with a four-person limit, there will be ample handwashing stations and several entrances. Braam said he believes COVID-19 could forever transform entertainment venues by making them more sanitized and more thoughtful all around for the guests.

“We have enough room for people to feel comfortable,” he said, adding he expects many could be wearing masks while others enjoy music from a distance.

The acts

The festival first launched in 2019 with perfomers like Tim McGraw, Pitbull and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler playing to audiences at Canterbury Park. The 2020 lineup was slated to include country acts Zac Brown Band and Carrie Underwood, both of whom are slated to return next year and headline one night each.

Lynyrd Skynyrd will headline opening night of the festival on Thursday, July 22 as part of their Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour. The southern rock band’s career has spanned more than 40 years. Kip Moore will also play on Thursday, along with Elvie Shane and 32 Below.

The full festival lineup will also include artists Ashley McBryde, Brett Young, Kip Moore, Mitchell Tenpenny, Blanco Brown, The Fabulous Armadillos and Ian Munsick, according to a news release.

Underwood, a household name in country music, will close the stage on Friday, July 23. Brett Young will open for her that evening and Blanco Brown and Ian Munsick will also perform.

Country music group and Grammy winners Zac Brown Band will headline Summer Jam on Saturday, July 24. Ashley McBryde, the 2019 ACM New Female Vocalist of the Year, will take the stage earlier in the night, with Mitchell Tenpenny and The Fabulous Armadillos opening the show, the release said.

The festival was nominated by USAToday as one of the nation’s best emerging festivals.

Tickets

Attendees can purchase both three-day and one-day ticket options, along with camping spots right on the Canterbury Park grounds. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 20 and can be purchased at tcsummerjam.com or directly at ticketmaster.com. Visit tcsummerjam.com for more information. VIP tickets are also available and can be treated like season tickets, Braam said, with the possibility of purchasing the same seats each year.

Digital content coordinator

Rachel Minske is a regional editor and digital content coordinator at Southwest News Media. She's passionate about in-depth reporting and digital audiences. She's a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and enjoys exploring Minnesota.

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