Mid West Music Fest is ready to return to the stage — one stage, that is.
The one-day fest on May 15 will feature 14 musical acts at Prairie Island Park in Winona, including headliners Nur-D, The Von Tramps, and The People Brothers Band.
It’s the first single-location MWMF, over a shorter period of time than usual — but with the lingering threat of COVID-19, it’s the best compromise organizers could find.
“We really wanted to do something in person — we’ve been doing virtual stuff for a year,” said creative director Parker Forsell. “We know conditions are getting better, more people are getting vaccinated, and people are excited to see something live, in person.”
In 2020, the festival’s management forestalled live performances and held Mid West Music Fest at Home — a series of free, livestreamed performances paired with a fundraising drive to recoup lost revenue.
This year, the concerts will be split into two parts — free performances from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a paid set from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
All festival-goers will need to reserve a ticket for each set they wish to attend.
“For many years, we have had an outdoor stage at the festival — it’s primarily been a series of venues, you bounce around the downtown,” Forsell said.
Usually, the first part of the day has been largely free to showcase student and up-and-coming performers.
Holding free performances in the morning and afternoon carries on that tradition.
Forsell said he’s excited to share the festival’s lineup with attendees — including Twin Cities musician Freaque, “who’s got a Tom Waits kind of feel to him,” hip-hop looping vocalist Queen Drea, and more.
“The music committee, we had a more intentional purpose of making sure the lineup was quite diverse,” he said.
The Artisan Market will return with 10 makers, and Dr. Bob’s Puppets will return for the umpteenth show.
Pre-COVID, MWMF made much of its fundraising money off event tickets.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone,” Forsell said. “We still have been able to get grants and things, but another reason why this is just in one location is because the state guidelines, at this point, set people like us up not to (make much money). We’re not going to make 40 to 50% of our income off an event like this. It’s definitely a challenge until we can get more back to normal, and this is something that all music venues are dealing with.”
Tickets go on sale at midwestmusicfest.org on March 24.
If you go
What: Mid West Music Fest
When: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, May 15
Where: Prairie Island Park, Winona
Cost: $50-$80 for paid pod tickets, midwestmusicfest.org