Local Current Blog

Boats and Bluegrass: Winona music festival celebrating its tenth anniversary

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. Photo courtesy Boats and Bluegrass Music Festival.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary as a music festival in Winona, Boats and Bluegrass promises a jam-packed weekend full of bluegrass and folk music, as well as outdoor activities from Sept. 25-28.

Held on two stages at the Prairie Island Campground on the Mississippi River, music will begin on Thursday evening at 4:30, with the night headlined by Charlie Parr. The tunes will continue through to Sunday morning, featuring artists Pert Near Sandstone, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and Elephant Revival, among over 40 other groups.

Throughout the weekend, festival-goers are encouraged to camp out overnight (if they have a weekend pass), canoe on the river with provided equipment and guides, hike the area trails, play disc golf, and even go on airplane rides. A variety of food vendors will be on hand for grub between sets, along with Tallgrass Brewing Company selling craft beers.

The festival got its start a decade ago when Red Tail Outfitters, owned by Tom Fassbender (one of the fest’s primary organizers), decided to create an event to promote their company. “We thought it would be a way to share something with our current customers and hopefully reach some new ones,” said Fassbender. “As time passed, Boats and Bluegrass became our main focus.”

As part of the anniversary celebration, there will be live recording sessions to keep a commemorative record of the event. The full schedule is available at the festival’s website.

Paul Schmitt is a literature major at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He’s inspired by bass lines, metafiction, and lengthy mealtime conversation.