Boats and Bluegrass

8:30 AM

Every September on the banks of the Mississippi in Winona, our favorite festival happens.  I’m talking about Boats and ... Bluegrass!  Not only is the scenery majestic, but  the music and the people are just as wonderful.  The festival offers four days and nights of music, camping just outside the gates along the river, and unlimited access to paddle boards, canoes and kayaks.

When I say this event is special, I mean it. Not only is it reflected in type of family friendly, inclusive crowd it attracts, but also the staff who are genuinely excited to be there. I don’t know how many bands I heard say THIS was the gig they looked forward to all year. And it showed.  When the sets were over, the bands didn’t pack up and go home.  Instead, they came together for jams that went on until the early morning.  Despite these all night jams, the crowd remained respectful and the quiet areas were actually quiet!

A few of our favorite bands included Barbaro, a Minneapolis-Winona quartet, Feeding Leroy,  based out of Duluth and bringing the pedal steel, Kind Country, who are gaining popularity fast in the Cities, Lindsay Lou,  all the way from Nashville, and after hearing the talk around the tent, everyone loved the country twang of Town Mountain.

 Not only could you catch the music on the two stages inside the gates, but if you venture onto the river you can find the bands playing on the deck of a boat with people paddling alongside. Inside the fest you could find some great food including wood fire pizzas and fresh caramel apples.  If you want to hit the coffee stand in the morning though, expect a 30-45 minute wait.

As much as I would love to keep this fest a secret, do yourself a favor and go to Boats and Bluegrass next year!  You will plan every September after around it, I promise!

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