Ralph’s mother, a travel writer, has a lovely home on the water in Detroit Lakes—an unpretentious town with an intimate community surrounding two appealing little lakes where families from Fargo and Minneapolis have been summering for generations. We timed our visit to avoid the two annual events that overflow the local campgrounds with rowdy fans: WeFest, the largest country music concert in Middle America (which the locals call “Drunkfest”) and the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival (“Drugfest”).
When we arrived, DL was just recovering from 10KLF (“Minnesota is the land of ten thousand lakes,” explained Ralph’s mom, “but there are more depending on how many potholes you count.”) The 4-day event featured the Dave Matthews Band and 95 other acts (jeez, did I count that right?), and we pulled away in plenty of time to miss Tim McGraw and friends who arrived for WeFest. “All the locals buy their groceries on Tuesday and hole up on Wednesday when the RVs start arriving,” reported mom. After WeFest she emailed further details. “Yesterday morning, I counted 22 cars, RVs, and camping trailers in one minute traveling east on the road behind the cottage,” (a shortcut between the festival campgrounds and the highway). “There was one death—a 24-year old Fargo man, who was found dead before the music even began, and several arrests noted in the local paper for fights, assault, and disorderly conduct.”
Both events actually look like a pretty good time if that’s your thing. Our thing while in DL was all about taking the pontoon out to fish for muskie, playing bingo (by the way, if you want to experience the meaning of stink eye, yell “bingo” when you don’t have one during a game at an American Legion Hall in Minnesota), and attending the Becker County Fair in the pouring rain. To my dismay no baby pigs, but there were other handsome farm animals, the obligatory bizarre-slash-adorable 4-H exhibits, and booths featuring taxidermy, Tupperware, and free Gideon bibles.