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HISTORICAL HOOTENANNY: Visitors enjoy live bluegrass in Rochester

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Hootenanny at History Center of Olmsted County

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- With so many summer and fall events cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, Rochester residents are glad to have any excuse to have a fun, yet safe time.

The History Center of Olmsted County put on a new event, a bluegrass hootenanny.

"It's spectacular. I've been looking forward to this all summer," said Charlotte Matis, member of the band Root River Jam.

The first ever Hootenanny brought out bluegrass music to an outdoor setting, the historic George Stoppel Farmstead.

"It's a vernacular building and bluegrass is a vernacular music, a music of the people. It seemed like a good setting," said Wayne Gannaway, director of the History Center of Olmsted County.

The farmstead is a setting that is in need to renovation, something the event hopes to raise awareness for.

"Let's try using music to help tell the story of this important historic site," Gannaway said.

The History Center director is glad the show did go on despite all the changes.

"We were able to do it. It did mean flexibility of everybody's part. We had to delay it because of bad weather," Gannaway said. "We didn't want people huddling in clusters."

Visitors from all over the region were glad to enjoy the nice weather and local bands.

"We love music and outdoor music is the best," said Jeanne Marie, visitor from Red Wing.

"I love the dancing music because I like to get out there and shake a leg," said her friend, Rosemary Kastberg.

People also enjoyed the historic farmstead.

"It's beautiful," Marie said. "I'm surprised how pretty it is."

For artists, they enjoy being able to play and being appreciated by live audiences again.

"While we haven't gotten to play as much, the times we have gotten to play have been really great," Matis said.

Even off the stage, music has been important to many during the pandemic.

"Music has helped a lot of people get through the summer," said Matis, who also teaches music. "People who just play for themselves in an amateur setting are playing more which is great."

The Hootenanny sold out because of a 250 person max capacity. All involved hope to bring it back next September.

"We're going to do this next year," the history center director said. "Hopefully by then we'll be able to increase our audience size."

Visitors enjoyed food and beer from local vendors.

The history center's pioneer farm was built in 1856 and commemorates early settlers and the area's agricultural history.

Alex Tejada

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