Bend of the River Festival brings country music

On Saturday, MSU Athletics and Kwik Trip collaborated together to host the inaugural Bend of the River Music Festival. With cornhole, vendors and concerts, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Organizer Robyn James said that MSU Director of Athletics Kevin Buisman approached James and her business partner Jerry Braam back in 2019 about hosting a festival on campus. The event was delayed due to Covid and Hockey Day Minnesota. 

“It’s kind of a collaboration with [MSU Athletics] wanting to showcase the campus and athletics and then our team coming in to do something good for the community by raising money for high school and MSU athletics,” James said.

The idea for the festival’s name originated from the geographical location of the two rivers that come together and wanting to reach as many surrounding communities as possible. 

“We wanted to reach many communities in the Bend of the River area. We wanted a name to stick with us for a long time and something anyone in the river valley community could consider their own,” James said.

Planning for the event started back in November of 2021. While lining up artists and vendors took nine months to coordinate, James is hopeful to make the festival a yearly occurrence based on the outcome of the event.

“We hope to make this a mainstay in the community and keep it coming year after year,” James said.

Juan Moreno was the winner of the competitive division of the cornhole competition. Moreno competed as a part of Central Minnesota Cornhole, a St. Cloud based organization that runs  cornhole tournaments around Minnesota. Moreno has been with the group for three years.

“We started in 2020 and said ‘let’s get this [group] going, and then Covid hit. Because nothing was open, we waited a year to get competitions going,” Moreno said.

While Moreno said that he enjoys hanging out and meeting new people, his competitive streak hasn’t gone away. Moreno has been playing cornhole for nine years and practices for tournaments quite a bit.

“I practice 10 hours a week for tournaments. The sport’s growing and I’m hoping to get better,” Moreno said. 

Throughout the festival, MSU athletes were in attendance, signing autographs on posters. Following the cornhole tournament, IV (Foreplay) was the first band of the night to perform. Artist Jason Nix followed shortly after.

Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM) New Female Artist of the Year nominee, Priscilla Block, then took the stage and performed her most well known song, “Thick Thighs.”

After her performance, MSU President Edward Inch, Kevin Buisman and Stomper came to the stage to receive the $50,000 check MSU Athletics received from the event. Local high schools raised $2,500 for their schools and volunteers for the event put in 350 hours of service.

As the sun set and the sky turned dark, headliner Jimmie Allen performed his set. Allen was awared New Artist of the Year at the Country Music Asscoaiton Awards and New Male Artist fo the Year at the ACM awards this year in March.

Best known for his song “Best Shot,” the Deleware local danced and sang his way up until the end of the night that concluded around 9:45 p.m.

With plenty of performances and fun to be had, the Bend of the River Festival brought the community together for a good cause.

Header Photo: Jimmie Allen belts out a song at the inaugural Bend of the River Festival at Blakslee Stadium on Saturday night. All the proceeds from the event went to MSU athletics and high school athletic programs in the area. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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