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Fundraiser to help festival rise above the storm


They knew they had some weather coming, though no one at the Moon Dance Music Festival could expect the ferocity that crushed through.

The sound crew pulled the plug while the band performing was asking to do just one more. And then came mayhem.

Curt Biese, co-owner of the festival, was napping as Mother Nature started swinging. His trailer started rocking.

“I thought people were messing with me,” he said. “I went outside and it was pretty much like the Wizard of Oz.”

Moon Dance, an annual camping and bluegrass music festival that takes place northwest of Antigo, continues to deal with the damages meted out in a matter of minutes on July 19. Organizers are hoping that a night of October music will aid the healing process. 

They’re holding a fundraiser for the festival at Appleton Beer Factory on Sunday in hopes of recovering from the financial damages suffered in July and charting a course for the future. 

The event will take place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Live music will begin at 5:30 p.m. and include performances from Maria Rose (The Outskirts, The Chord Trackers),Johnny Travis (ILMO),Jon Schinke (Ifdakar, Acoustikar).Tyler Shea (Feed the Dog) and Peter Plumb.

Sunday’s performance will take a storytellers format. All of the performers will share the stage. They’ll take turns sharing the origins their songs and performing them.

The weather left the festival in shambles.

Sheets of rain were travelling sideways and high-speed winds tore the place apart. The light structure came down and vendors lost their wares. The wind lifted a monitor off of the stage and threw it at one of Biese’s friends.

Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.

“It all happened so fast,” Biese said.

They took a hit in terms of equipment, but the far bigger hit came in having lost their audience.

Bands cancelled. Many festival goers called it a weekend early and hit the road based on the destruction left by the storm. Organizers were able to set up a generator and get a stage going, yet many who would have come for Saturday’s big lineup didn’t arrive. 

That Saturday, severe weather continued across the state, tearing down trees and knocking out power — in many cases, for days.

“No one is going to go to a festival when their dealing with their own damage,” Biese said.

Biese said he would prefer to not have to do fund raising, though it’s a grassroots solution for a festival that developed and sustained from grassroots efforts.

The fundraiser will ticket raffles with prizes that’ll include Green Bay Packers tickets, a bicycle and a mandolin.

All ages are welcome on Sunday and the event is free to attend.