The 23rd Laughing Waters Festival, a popular annual free bluegrass event, will take place on Labor Day at Minnehaha Park despite the death of founder/organizer Alan Jesperson.
With some sponsors already lined up, his daughter, Elise (Lisi) Balderrama, said the fest is set for 1 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 at the Minnehaha Falls bandstand in Minneapolis.
Jesperson, the godfather of Minnesota bluegrass scene, died in December at age 74. A member of the Middle Spunk Creek Boys for 53 years, he started Laughing Waters Festival in 1999. He married Janine Kemmer, bassist for Middle Spunk since 2010, onstage at the fest in 2018.
This will be the first year that Middle Spunk Creek Boys will not play at Laughing Waters.
The lineup is Pete's Pool Hall, LaPlant Road, Steam Machine, the High 48s, No Man's String Band and King Wilkies Dream, making their seventh appearance at Laughing Waters. There will be food trucks.
Helming the festival is Matt Johnson, longtime events manager for the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association.
"Last year, Alan asked me to help make sure that the festival would continue on into the future in the event he could no longer put it on himself," said Johnson. "I'm working with Janine and Lisi to honor Alan's wish. This is a great, family friendly event for the community to come together on Labor Day and enjoy some live music and food at the beautiful Minnehaha Falls park."