ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – Over the weekend, fans flooded the U.P. State Fairgrounds for the inaugural Northern Lights Music Fest.
The two-day event kicked off Friday night with Nelson, former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach, and Pop Evil.
“I think that these summer concert series are very important to small towns,” said Pop Evil singer Leigh Kakaty. “Escanaba is so rich with their passion for blue-collar music and the way they support. It’s humbling to be back, so we’re super grateful.”
An enthusiastic crowd turned out for opening night. Many said they hope the festival could signal a future for similar events in Delta County.
“They need one of these every month, I swear,” said attendee Eric LaPalm. “It’s just great, everyone out here is having a great time, it’s just very good energy you know, and I’m just so happy to be here.”
Saturday night, country artists Austin Snell and Ingrid Andress prepared a packed house for headliner Keith Urban.
Throughout the weekend, locals and visitors to the area set up their campers at the fairgrounds.
“This is the first year; we want to make it successful so that it’ll be here in following years,” said camper Linda Romps. “It’s important to support your local community. Little bit of localness, little bit of superstar, little bit of everything.”
“I think we have a great community for music, and even downtown has tons of music here and there,” said camper Mike Canull. “I kind of hope this kicks into another level of bringing the music to us.”
As for those without a camper, several nearby hotels told WZMQ 19 News they were either completely booked or close to it. According to Hunter Brucks, CEO and president of event production company HB Concerts, that means a large financial boost for Escanaba.
“We’re really involved in the economic side of things,” said Brucks. “When you fill hotels, you fill campsites, sell as many tickets as we did, it’s a major impact for the economy here.”
Along with Visit Escanaba, Brucks hopes to see the festival become a U.P. tradition.
“We have a long-term vision for this,” he said. “I’m in for the long haul.”
Click here for a backstage look at the setup for Northern Lights Music Fest.