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Lakefest offers wholesome family fun

Lakefest visitors enjoy music and games during the 2011 festival on Barker’s Island. This year’s event runs noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. (Submitted photo)

Lakefest is more than a family fun fest, more than a concert. It’s a chance for local Christians to pour their love into the community and extend a helping hand to folks in need. For eight years, the annual event has served up free music, games and activities at Barker’s Island.

“I would encourage everybody to check it out,” said Tylor Elm of He’s attended Lakefest for a few years now.

“I like the music,” Elm said.

This year’s lineup includes Sean Michel, the bearded Arkansas singer who made it to the big stage of American Idol during Season 6. Michel will bring his truth, soul, and rock and roll to Superior for Lakefest. Twin Cities-based bands Sarah James and the Relatives, Heart’s Bane and Saving Vinal City also take the stage, along with the local Arise Band and other artists.

Visitors can enjoy games, prizes and activities for the kids, catch a puppet show at 12:45 p.m. and take part in a heartfelt thanks to veterans at 4 p.m.

“Just to give them honor,” said Lakefest organizer Rose Ligman.

It’s also a day to lend a hand to those in need. For months, dedicated organizers have been extreme couponing to amass school supplies, backpacks, hygiene items, baby supplies, nonperishable food and diapers. They will give it all away at Lakefest, which runs noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Organizers were touched by the need they saw last year. People began lining up for the giveaways 45 minutes before the event started. The line opened up at noon and within 1½ hours, all the school supplies were gone. By 2 p.m., the food was gone, with the hygiene supplies following soon after.

“We were shocked,” Ligman said. “It was just a reality check to see how many people needed that.”

When volunteers announced school supplies had dwindled to just folders and pens, Ligman saw one little girl look up at her mother and say, “Mom, what are we going to do now?”

“My heart just kind of broke,” Ligman said. That feeling drove organizers to raise funds, pinch pennies and stack coupons to triple the number of items available this year. Ligman said with their new couponing skills, they were able to shave 50 to 70 percent off prices.

Lakefest is, at its heart, “Christ’s followers serving their community intentionally.” Ligman said she never understood why Christians did everything within the church. If you love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength, she said, you should love your neighbor as yourself. Lakefest allows organizers and volunteers to meet and serve their neighbors.

“If we can provide the community with a fun, family event that’s low cost, something the kids can remember, to me that’s worth a million bucks,” Ligman said.

Her favorite chore is ordering the children’s games.

“I enjoy watching the little kids play games — that inspires me,” Ligman said.

This year, kids can enjoy a bounce house, obstacle course, Plinko, hockey, football toss, golf, beanbag toss and tic tac toe.

Fundraising for the event takes place year round, and local businesses like, A&W Family Restaurant and Kari Toyota also donate to the cause.

“I think it’s a good community event” geared toward wholesome, family fun, said A&W owner Avis Phelps.

Lakefest organizers don’t come from a particular church or location. Some live in Superior, others in Duluth; one makes the commute from Iron River to put the event together.

“It’s not a Superior thing; it’s not a Duluth thing,” Ligman said. “It’s a Northland thing. Everybody’s welcome.”

For more information on Lakefest, which takes place annually on the first Saturday of August, go to