Winona’s own Mid West Music Fest (MWMF) is set to bring some of the best regional talents to town April 24 through 26. For the festival’s fifth anniversary this year, over 60 regional bands, including headliners Lizzo, The 4onthefloor, Caroline Smith, and Charlie Parr, will perform at 13 stages in downtown Winona, where all ages are invited to come and enjoy a variety of music as a community.
“When I was doing it the first year I didn’t anticipate we would be here in year five,” MWMF’s creator Sam Brown said of the festival’s popularity. “It’s pretty cool to have that happen.”
Brown, who is originally from Red Wing, started MWMF back in 2010 when he was stationed in Winona with AmeriCorps. While the idea of creating a music festival to build community started as a small summer project, Brown said that he always knew he wanted MWMF to involve a big number of regional bands.
“When I told people about it [originally] they assumed it would be a lot smaller,” he recalled. “But right off the bat I had my sights set on bringing 60 to 75 bands to Winona in the first year.”
So Brown did just that and brought more than 70 bands to perform and raise funds for local non-profits such as Head Start and the Winona Fine Arts Commission. Since then, MWMF has brought in a wide variety of bands and musical acts as a way to showcase regional and local talent. This year will also feature a polka band, a barn dance and a musician’s workshop, which Brown sees as a way to include more people from the community, and to get people excited about this year’s local cause.
“This year we’re going to focus on one cause — the Marine Art Museum’s venture program,” he said. “It’s an art program for elementary school-aged kids.”
MWMF’s support for the community and the community’s involvement with the music festival is a big drawing card for people. Intertwining those two elements is what Brown set out to do in the first place.
“It’s a festival that really focuses on building community through music,” he explained. “Just good vibes and those sorts of things.”
For more information about the Mid West Music Fest please head to http://www.midwestmusicfest.org