Ramble Jam entertains in Farmington

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Farmington Rotary Club's Ramble Jam is building a reputation as the place for up-and-coming country music musicians in an outdoor venue.

Each year Ramble Jam promises to deliver live music with bands who satisfy the soul. The festival is for all who love country music and even a few who may be on the fence and may like a little country and a little rock 'n' roll.

Farmington Rotarian Lori Jensen, fundraising chair for Ramble Jam, said this year all the hard work paid off. The club will be ready to give back to local groups and fund local scholarships.

"Attendance was up and we had 3,000 each night," Jensen said of the festival Sept. 15-16. The festival operation was supported with more than 300 volunteers and many local businesses who sponsor the growing music festival.

Jensen said Ramble Jam continues to grow in attendance and the festival serves as the club's sole fundraiser that began seven years ago. The first two years Farmington Rotary hosted a concert event called Rocktoberfest.

This year Ramble Jam introduced a large screen to show off the musicians. The audience could see the performance up close, no matter where they sat or stood. The large screen also offered a way to thank sponsors, show club photos and explain how Farmington Rotary continues to give back to the community in many grassroots ways.

"This year we eliminated the second stage for financial reasons because we did not feel like people took advantage of it," Jensen said. All bands performed on the large, impressive main stage.

"We like to say we give back locally and globally," Jensen said. "We give back in high school with scholarships to graduating seniors from Farmington High School and Christian Life School in Farmington with Strive and Service-Above-Self scholarships."

Ramble Jam funds support youth to participate in city parks and recreation programs and community education programming. Funds support Family Support Workers who work within Farmington schools under the umbrella of 360 Communities, which strives to support families and ensure students' school success.

In the last three years, the Farmington Rotary has given more than $260,000.

"We have donated $10,000 toward the (Farmington) veterans' memorial two years ago, and we have donated to the Farmington Fire Department and the Farmington Police Department," Jensen said.

To ensure the philanthropic giving, the group strives to tap the top in talent in the country music industry.

Musicians Kip Moore, Brett Young, Drake White, Tucker Beathard, William Michael Morgan and Drew Baldridge performed last weekend. Local musicians Chris Hawkey and The Plott Hounds also played.

"We took an extra step to get Kip Moore, a bigger act that cost more money and we were all really excited about him because he did a great job and I was most excited to see him," Farmington Rotary President Krysia Moe said.

Engaging local community groups to volunteer and sell raffle tickets, Moe said the club really appreciates all the groups who donate time and become involved and help make Ramble Jam a growing success.

This year, one couple found romance at Ramble Jam and were engaged during Hawkey's concert Friday.

Longtime Farmington Rotarian Honoree Ted Dau is a loyal volunteer as a retired Farmington police officer. He knows the value the club and what Ramble Jam brings to the community.

"Ramble Jam is my passion and it is nice to help the Rotary," Dau said. He leads the security on the fairgrounds during Ramble Jam. The security includes a private security company, sheriff deputies and a visible security group of volunteers.

As a school resource officer for 17 years, Dau said he understands the value the family support workers from 360 Communities bring to support youth in schools.

"They work with the counselors and are one of the pieces of the puzzle that makes kids' lives easier and safer, and give the kids a good start before they have to make a life and death decision," Dau said. "I know that the money from Ramble Jam and a large percentage is given back to the community and not just in Farmington but in Dakota County."

Farmington Rotary Club will soon be busy planning and booking talent for next year's Ramble Jam. The club will be selling deep discounted tickets before the holidays.

To find out more about Farmington Rotary Club or buy tickets for next year's Ramble Jam, go to www.farmingtonrotarymn.com or connect to Ramble Jam via Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat.