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In Jackson, a festival grows into its own

JACKSON -- The first Rhythm of the River festival was part of Jackson's Sesquicentennial celebration in 2006. Since then, it's been staged in conjunction with the community's Town & Country Days.

But this year, Rhythm of the River tries to make it on its own, with events slated for Thursday through Saturday this week.

"This is the first year it's a stand-alone event," explained Kathy Fransen, one of the committee members. "We found there were so many things going on that weekend, and people were stretched pretty thin, and we believe that Rhythm of the River can be its own event and draw people to Jackson on its own, so we decided to give it a try."

Rhythm of the River's main mission is to "expose festivalgoers to new music, singer/songwriters and styles of music, theatre and dance, while giving artists an opportunity to share, display and showcase their material," according to the event website.

Building on the success of the 2012 event, which featured a Renaissance theme complete with costumed characters, this year the festival will get even more fanciful with two Fairie Balls.

"We have joined forces with a group called Leo's Lions, which is raising money to fight Mitochondrial Disease," Fransen explained.

Leo's Lions is named after Leo Chapman Nesseth, who died just days after his first birthday from Alpers syndrome, which is one of many diseases that affect the mitochondria, the cellular power plants in human bodies.

"Leo's Lions is a team for the Energy for Life Walkathon," explained Leo's mother, Lindsay Chapman of Jackson. "We're in the fight to get better treatment, and eventually a cure, but it's all about research."

In 2011, a bill called Leo's Law was passed in the Minnesota Legislature, which designated the third week in September each year as Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week. Events such as Rhythm of the River help to further spread awareness of Mitochondrial Disease while also raising funds, Chapman noted.

"We have two main focuses in doing this," she said. "First of all, we're creating fun experiences for kids, because you never know, and you have to create these experiences for them, and then of course there's the fundraising side of it, too."

For the Fairie Ball theme, Chapman and her team will sell fanciful costume components -- wings, wizard hats, wands, etc. -- and offer face painting.

"We're also having a scavenger hunt," Chapman added. "There will be tasks they need to complete, and then they will get a prize at the end, and there will be a costume parade."

Slated to perform on the Rhythm of the River stage this year are Alaina Wolff, the Roe Family Singers, Barbara Jean and the Great Escape, the Scott Larsen Band, JJRu, Claudia Russell and Bruce Kaplan, Randy Weeks and Nathan Miller and The Unstoppable Co. Fransen expects the biggest draw will be Michael Johnson, who scored a hit in 1978 with "Bluer than Blue."

Additionally, a song circle and songwriting workshop is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There will also be presentations on fitness hula hooping and demonstrations by the Illumination Fire Troupe from St. Paul.

"We've had local artists paint five sets of cornhole games -- each one is individually painted -- and those will be raffled off with proceeds going to Rhythm of the River," said Fransen, "and we're having a beanbag tournament as well."

Rhythm of the River is a free event, but festivalgoers are encouraged to buy a button or make a donation to support the festival.

The complete schedule of events is as follows:


4 to 7 p.m., Retail Therapy Night at various Jackson businesses; sidewalk chalk art


5 p.m., Family Night Out, proceeds going to Holiday Fest; beer garden opens

6 to 8 p.m., Fairie Ball, proceeds to United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

6 to 6:15 p.m., Alaina Jane Wolff

6 p.m. to midnight: Artguy Chuck

6:30 p.m, cornhole tournament

6:30 to 8 p.m., The Roe Family Singers

8 p.m., March of the Fairies

8:30 to 10 p.m., Barbara Jean and the Great Escape

10:30 p.m. to midnight, The Scott Larsen Band.


9 a.m., yoga

10 a.m., beer garden opens

10 a.m., cornhole tournament

2 p.m., art, craft and home-based vendors open

2:30 to 3:30 p.m., song circle/songwriting workshop

2:30 to 9 p.m., Illumination Fire Troupe demonstrations

3 to 6 p.m., Fairie Ball, proceeds to United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

3:30 to 4:30 p.m., JJRu

5 to 6 p.m., Claudia Russell and Bruce Kaplan

6:30 to 8 p.m., Michael Johnson

8 p.m., March of the Fairies

8:30 to 10 p.m., Randy Weeks

10 p.m., Illumination Fire Troupe

10:30 p.m. to midnight, Nathan Miller and The Unstoppable Co.

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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