Bend of the River rocks out with country

The Blakeslee Stadium practice fields were packed Saturday afternoon, but not because of a football game.

The Bend of the River Festival brought three musical artists to Mankato for a night of memories and tunes. 

Owner and organizer Robyn James said the success of 2022’s inaugural concert festival and community feedback made her want to bring it back.

“It’s just a really good feeling to know that we’re doing something good and it’s something that people want to see here in this town,” James said. 

This year’s lineup of artists was a combination of rock, blues and country. James said she wanted a blend of young and mature artists to keep everyone entertained. 

“We’re going to hit everybody from 16 up to 68 and over,” James said. “We just wanted some artists that play a variety just to keep things going.” 

Part of the feedback James received was improving the layout of the event and bringing in more vendors and food trucks from the community to make it more cohesive.  

“It feels like you’re at one event and not disjointed. When you’re eating your food, you can see the stage and hear the music,” James said. “We also have lawn games set up so people can just sit back, chill and really enjoy the afternoon.”

Tim Montana took to the stage at 4 p.m. The country-rock star performed his hit song “This Beard Came Here to Party,” and his most recent single “Devil You Know.”

The lineup continued as gritty-blues singer Elle King came out and performed for the audience. Best known for her song, “Ex’s and Oh’s,” the country-rocker played her hit as well as songs from her most recent album “Come Get Your Wife” which was released earlier this year. 

King was the reason freshman Allison Adamec came to the concert.

“The concert sounded really fun and I can’t wait to listen to ‘Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)’” Adamec said. 

As the sun started to set, 38 Special came out to rock-n-roll the crowd. With over 40 years of songs, the band played a mix of their hits, most of which their three 1980s-era platinum statuses. The concert wrapped up around 10 p.m.

Senior Tsion Demissie and Junior Mahlet Demissie said they came to have fun and enjoy the food.

“It’s our first time here this year, so we are hoping to have a good time and hopefully come back next year,” Demissie said.

Header photo: Thousands of people attended the annual Mahkato Wacipi in Mankato’s Land of Memories Park. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at

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