Expanded Bridge Festival reels in support for flood victimsA record number of people showed up for the final day of the Twin Ports’ Bridge Festival at Bayfront Festival Park Sunday to take in a day of music headlined by Duluth’s own Trampled by Turtles and to support flood recovery efforts.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
A record number of people showed up for the final day of the Twin Ports’ Bridge Festival at Bayfront Festival Park Sunday to take in a day of music headlined by Duluth’s own Trampled by Turtles and to support flood recovery efforts.
“It’s sort of a two-for-one deal,” said Ryan Wiisanen of Poplar. “We get to see some great bands while also helping our area communities rebuild and get stronger.”
“It says something awesome about our region that so many people would donate their time and energy to help out flood victims,” said Lindsey Goss-Maurisek, a concert-goer from Duluth’s Observation Hill neighborhood.
Lisa Neitzel, one of the organizers of the event, explained that performers and orchestrators of the festival received no payment for their services, although bands were fed and reimbursed for travel and lodging expenses.
In addition to Trampled by Turtles, other bands volunteering their services included the Boomchucks, Sarah Krueger, Matt Ray & Those Damn Horses, Solomon Witherspoon 1017, Trapper Scheoepp & the Shades, Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank and Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles.
Erik Berry, a mandolinist for Trampled by Turtles and resident of the rural Two Harbors area, said the band was eager to lend a hand.
“We were all wondering if we could raise a little money to help with the flood damage,” he said. “This hit so close to home.”
But Berry said the band also was wary of joining in any event where many of the proceeds might not make it to families in need.
“You can wind up raising a lot of money just to pay for the costs of putting on an event,” he explained.
But by piggybacking on an existing event and expanding the Bridge Festival from a one-day event to a weekend, Berry said organizers were able to keep their expenses to a minimum. “The timing was wonderful,” he said.
Neitzel and her colleague, Shane Bauer, the founder of the 2-year-old festival, aimed to raise $100,000 for the United Way’s long-term regional flood relief fund through the event.
As of Saturday morning, the fund already had garnered more than $88,000 in support, said Paula Reed, president of the United Way of Greater Duluth.
The community was quick to respond to a June 25 announcement that the Bridge Festival would be extended into a two-day event to support flood recovery efforts.
“People really stepped up,” said Neitzel. “It was awesome.”
The response was so great that Neitzel said it was necessary to turn away several talented bands who wanted to assist with the event.
Bauer estimated about 3,000 people attended Sunday’s event. That’s roughly twice as many people as attended the first Bridge Festival last year, featuring Michael Franti.
Roxe Peterson and Linda Kropp, a couple of school custodians from Moose Lake, said they came to Sunday’s concert to hear some music but also to support friends and neighbors in a time a need.
“When you create something like this, it’s a good way to give back,” Bauer said. “And I’ve found that what you put out there to help others has a way of coming back to you.”
In addition to supporting flood-relief efforts, $10,000 in proceeds from the first day of this year’s festival also went to fund the Music Resource Center, a local organization that pairs school-aged musicians with professionals for after-school sessions where they can learn about the music business and recording.
Last year, proceeds from the event went to support efforts to free a group of students who were taken prisoner by Iran and charged with espionage, after allegedly straying into the country during a sightseeing trip.
“Our long-term vision is to create something different every year,” Bauer said.
As Trampled by Turtles took the stage Sunday night, Duluth Mayor Don Ness told the crowd he has been proud to see the way people have reached out to help neighbors in the wake of the torrential rains that struck June 19.
“I love this city so much when I see the talent and generosity of the people who have shared this stage,” he said, reserving special praise on the night’s headliner band.
“We wouldn’t be here tonight if it wasn’t for my friends standing behind me,” Ness said. “These guys have never forgotten their Duluth roots.”