Foldable lawn chairs were out long before the music began. When the music did start, it was on.
The parking lot of the Church of St. Joseph was packed with people all ready to groove in celebration of Independence Day courtesy of the annual Joetown Rocks concert.
This year’s concert featured music from Emma Kay and the Long Way; the Liverpool Legends, a Beatles Tribute Band; and Shalo Lee and the Rush River Band.
Jill Meyer grew up attending the annual Fourth of July Parish Festival. For as long as she can remember the community event has been a family tradition. At 29, this is still the case.
As a child, she didn’t have too far to go considering her grandfather Leander Meyer’s home sits on the border of the parking lot that serves as the seating area for the free concert. Her view of the concert and the parade that follows the next day were always a good one.
This time she drove from the St. Paul area to maintain her routine. Meyer and her mother Debbie Meyer were eager to see the Liverpool Legends perform July 3.
“We’ve seen other Beatles Tribute bands before,” Jill said. “They (Liverpool Legends) are the best we’ve seen.”
The Meyers said they first saw the band in Branson. They were glad to see them in Minnesota.
Debbie said she and her daughter missed the concert last year but were happy to be a part of the festivities this year.
“It’s fun,” Debbie said. “It’s hometown. I can’t imagine the (Fourth of July) without it.”
Concert Chairman Rich Schwegel said he expected about 15,000 people for the concert this year. He said he figured a little more attended last year with it being Bobby Vee’s last performance for the event. Overall, it’s well attended every year, he said.
“People love it,” Schwegel said. “We start planning in October. I’ve got a great group of people to work with. I don’t have to worry about anything.”
The event draws visitors from all over the world. This year, visitors from St. Cloud’s sister city, Spalt, Germany were in attendance.
While the main event is the music, another highlight is the variety of games for children and of course, the Joe Burger. From a straw stand and ring toss to a candy tree and the “Duck Pluck,” the carnival atmosphere was achieved by organizers.
Rochelle Yapuncich of St. Cloud brought her son Caleb, 8, and daughter Lily, 5, to the event. Her husband Jeff is the photographer for the Church of St. Joseph. It is safe to say the games were their favorite part of the festivities.
“We try to come every year,” Yapuncich said. “This (games) is the best part. This and the music.”
Cole Butenhoff-Phillips racked up on the candy. The 7-year-old St. Joseph resident was a fan of the candy tree. He and his mother Linda Butenhoff try to make it to the event every year.
It’s a great way to catch up with friends and neighbors, she said
“It’s just a really nice event,” Linda Butenhoff said. “He gets to see his friends.”