EcoFest this year boasts its biggest music lineup yet, with 10 bands on the bill, including Suite, from Rochester, and two Twin Cities bands.
The seventh annual day-long outdoor concert event, at Jonny’s Saloon in Elba, starts at 11 a.m. July 11 with father-daughter duo Mark and Jocelyn Walsh (Mark is from Rochester’s Booker Mini Band) and wrapping up with the Fattenin’ Frogs, a Twin Cities roots band who’ve made southeastern Minnesota practically a second home this summer.
In between, the music styles range from rock ‘n’ roll to blues to reggae to funk to folk. The bands are all performing for free or a nominal charge, as EcoFest is a fundraising event.
Admission is free, but purchases and donations benefit an environmental organization and two local families who need help with medical and living expenses.
“It’s a great time to get a bunch of people together,” said Garrett Kolb, of Plainview, one of the event organizers. “It’s like a big, welcoming backyard party.”
The event raised about $8,000 each of the past several years.
This year, 90 cents of every dollar raised will go to a local family, either the Kiefer family from Plainview, who had a house fire and need help to replace personal belongings, or the Schlief family, of Elgin, who face staggering medical bills after Mark Schlief underwent two surgeries within the past year for reoccurring liver cancer.
“This helps them with what they really need,” Kolb said.
The rest of the money raised will be donated to the Minnesota Well Owners Organization, a relatively new group providing education, technical and legal assistance to private well owners throughout the state.
“They do a lot of local work down in the Whitewater Valley and Southeast Minnesota,” Kolb said.
In addition, there will be an exhibit on solar panels at the event. In fact, the performances themselves will be powered by solar energy, Kolb said.
Things to bring: a lawn chairs or blankets, sunscreen and camping gear. Camp sites will be available at nearby Tower View Campground for $10, Kolb said. Leave pets at home, though.
Food is for sale — “come hungry, there’s good organic food,” Kolb said.
“Bring a good attitude and be ready to have fun,” said Kolb, who also plays percussion with two of the bands: Thomas and the Shakes and the Lonely Winter String Band.
“From 1 to 10 (p.m.), it’s going to be really high-caliber musicians getting down. There aren’t any filler bands.”