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First-ever High Plains Fest opens Friday

TRAMPLED BY TURTLES will be the headliners for the inaugural High Plains Festival at the Soo Pass Ranch south of Detroit Lakes. The popular bluegrass band will perform on Saturday, July 2.

People who were sad to see the 10,000 Lakes Festival go on hiatus in 2010 after seven years will be relieved to know that there is a new alternative music fest coming to town.

The High Plains Festival will feature a variety of local and regional bands, playing music that ranges from bluegrass to folk.

However tempting it might be, Bob Bliss -- C.O.O. of the High Plains Fest -- urges people to refrain from drawing comparisons to the 10KLF Festival.

"It's its own event," Bliss said. "We wanted to try to do something, and we thought this would be a good opportunity."

Like the 10K Fest that came before it, the High Plains Fest will take place at Soo Pass Ranch. However, only part of the Ranch will be open for the fest, which will be smaller and more intimate than previous ones such as Spirit Fest and 10KLF.

"We're focusing on the Saloon area and the patio area," Bliss said, the former of which is the smallest stage on Soo Pass Ranch. "It's just a small, little event featuring some great local and regional bands."

Trampled by Turtles -- a popular bluegrass band from Duluth -- will headline the Festival on Saturday, July 2, along with Pert Near Sandstone and Caroline Smith. The cover charge for Saturday's music is $25.

People are invited to camp Friday, July 1, through Tuesday, July 5, on the Soo Pass grounds. Admission for the four days of camping, and all the music, is only $50.

The Saloon will also be hosting bands July 1 and 3. These shows -- featuring lesser known (though not necessarily lesser quality) bands such as Inside Out Strings, the Michael Pink Band, and the Boys and the Barrels -- are free and open to the public, with no charge even for parking.

"We'll also have some other bands playing during the set breaks in the Saloon," Bliss said

The High Plains Festival, with its intimate feel and down-home lineup, is an experiment with modest ambitions.

"We're looking to be a real positive accent everything that's already going on the city," Bliss stated.

People should not expect for Detroit Lakes to be overrun with out-of-town "hippies," although the Fest should provide a small economic boost to the community.

If the High Plains Festival is a success, could there be future events like it?

"We are very actively pursuing different things we can do with the property out here that would be very positive to the community," Bliss said.

For information or to order tickets, visit or call the ticket office at 800-493-3378.