Mud Lake City music fest likely drew a record crowd

MUD LAKE CITY—More than 650 people from across the region braved the heat Sunday to attend the eighth-annual music fest at Mud Lake City—a museum-type village located south of Devlin.
But Mud Lake City owner Betty Salchert noted there definitely were more attendees than that. In fact, they may have seen record numbers on hand this year.
“It’s really hard to tell,” she stressed Monday. “One person said he saw a steady stream of cars going both ways, so people were coming and going all day.
“It’s just a rough count, but 650 people signed the guest book and we didn’t get everyone signing the book,” she added. “We talked to a lot of people after who said they didn’t see the book. . . .
“Everyone is saying there were more this year than ever before. I would say probably double that.”
Salchert added the “Eatery” also saw a steady stream of customers purchasing burgers, snacks, and beverages throughout the day.
“They ran out of food and had to go get more burgers,” she remarked, noting close to 600 burgers were sold.
But she admitted the temperature was almost too hot for the event, which was the complete opposite of last year’s cold, damp weather.
“I think if I wanted to do something different next year, it would be to make it about five degrees cooler,” Salchert chuckled. “But we had a new sitting area in the shade which everybody appreciated. . . .
“We should have had the tent up again this year,” she added. “We had it up for the rain last year and we needed it for the sun this year.”
But many people brought along umbrellas to shield them from the rays, and Salchert said she and her husband have received nothing but positive feedback.
“All in all, it went really good—awesome,” she enthused, saying it went smoother with the addition of a second stage this year. It allowed setup to take place on one stage while a performance was taking place on the other.
“And the music was great,” Salchert added. “There were a few different bands—a bluegrass band from Birchdale [Mn.] that had little kids playing the fiddle and, of course, the Mud Lake City Boys were a real hit.
“Also, there was Old Man Mose and ‘Elvis’ returned this year.”
The event even started an hour earlier and ended an hour later than usual, with performers booked back-to-back all day long.
Salchert conceded she knows there always are little things they could do better and are always open to suggestions.
“I’d like to get an accurate count of the attendance,” she remarked. “What we’re going to do is have a couple of kids sitting at the table and tell people as they come in to sign the guest book.
“Maybe we’ll do it as they go out next year and then we’ll get more comments. I really like reading the comments,” she added.
Salchert said there were a lot of people from Atikokan, Dryden, and even Wisconsin.
“Throughout the year, I’ve talked to a lot of locals who say they haven’t been there and yet it amazes me that these people come down every year from Atikokan and Dryden for this,” she expressed.
“And yet there are locals who live three miles away who haven’t been here.”
Salchert also said they would like to do some work to improve the speaker system. The microphones from one stage were difficult to hear in the back and the system malfunctioned once.
Meanwhile, not only did people enjoy the music, but many also visited the several shops in Mud Lake City, which house various antiques and dated items.
Started nearly 10 years ago, Salchert explained she needed a place to store all her antiques and collectibles that were purchased mostly at auctions.
“It just kept growing,” she declared. “This is the first year we haven’t added another building. We keep saying no more buildings, but the only other ones we would like to have is a school and/or church.”
She added there is no other place like Mud Lake City in Rainy River District. “It’s like a hands-on museum where the items are not all under glass,” she remarked. “We’ve had busloads of students come out and I like to make these young kids aware because soon it’s going to be gone.
“The next generation coming up probably thinks most of this stuff is garbage.”
But Salchert also expects to keep Mud Lake City open and the music fest going for another few years.
“We we’re told we can’t quit until the 10th year, for sure,” she said. “One of the musicians said if attendance is down this year, you’ll know it is on a downhill.
“But if attendance is still up and everybody is still enjoying it, and people are coming out, you have got to keep going.”
(Fort Frances Times)

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