Kid Rock performed in front of a record crowd Thursday night, estimated at about 23,000 Jammers.

The first two nights of Moondance Jam turned out to be record nights, thanks to Kid Rock and great weather, and it just kept on getting better.

Kathy Bieloh said she knew Wednesday was going to be the biggest Pre-Jam ever because of all the pre-camping sold, and Thursday night broke all attendance and beverage sale records.

“It was just fantastic,” she said, thanking all the staff, sponsors and advertisers who stepped up to make sure this concert continued. She said the focus this year was to stay on budget, because after last year there was a concern whether the Jam would continue.

Topping all the great news was the announcement that Moondance Jam will return in 2013. By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, about 3,000 tickets for 2013 had already been pre-sold.

Back Stage Production Director Mark Kirchhoff also thought this year’s Jam was the biggest and best one ever. He gave each day a special emphasis. Wednesday was amazing, Thursday fantastic, Friday incredible and Saturday was stupendous.

Performers also weighed in on how well they are treated and why Moondance is their favorite music festival.

Don Felder, the former Eagles’ guitarist who made his first appearance at the Jam in 2010, thought it was great to carry on with Jam tradition, adding that all the bands appreciate it.

Kathy saved most of her appreciation for all the staff members, her extended family and all the Jammers. Last year was tough because of the financial concerns and the death of Jam founder Bill Bieloh only a few months before, but the family knew they had to continue.

“As tough as it was last year, we had to go on, and we were able to survive financially. There was no other way to pull out of this,” Kathy said. “So between the kids and [me], we decided it has to happen. Everything I do is still for Bill.”

She said she was so overwhelmed by the support she has received. “I’ve had so many people come up to me this year and say, ‘Kathy, thank you so much for continuing this.’ People are really praising us that we did pull this through.”

Saturday night Kathy was able to express her feelings to all the Jammers just before Heart took the stage. In addition to thanking them for making the Jam 21 a success, she told them there was someone up there looking down on them, which brought another tremendous roar from the crowd.

“Here’s to Bill Bieloh, my kids for helping us carry it on and here’s to you. I hope to see you all and your friends next year.”

Weather was nearly perfect

Weather always plays a part in the success of the Jam, and for the four days it was nearly ideal — which, along with the line-up, helped break attendance records.

Wednesday and Thursday couldn’t have been more perfect with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s both days.

Record sales and attendance were reached those two days, with the largest crowd ever turning out Thursday for Kid Rock.

Friday’s humid temperatures soared to 102 degrees as many Jammers sought relief. Clear skies disappeared as thunderstorms blanketed most of the Walker area early in the evening, but the main storm slid south of the fairgrounds as intermittent rain showers fell.

Some normalcy returned Saturday as the humidity left and the sun shone brightly once again.

The music

Hairball got the Jam off to a great start by bringing in another record crowd for the Pre-Jam Party. The Minneapolis-based band has performed at the Pre-Jam for three straight years, and every year the crowd gets bigger.

Kid Rock may have brought in the largest crowd in the history of Moondance, eclipsing previous record holders, which include Kiss, Def Leppard and Boston. But there were other performers that were just as impressive.

Both Hinder and Three Days Grace, who took the stage at 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday respectively, each raised the bar with their dynamic performances. Kid Rock and Fogerty followed suit and electrified the crowd.

Skid Row and April Wine got Thursday off to a great start, while Felder played all the Eagles’ greatest hits and was easily the most welcome surprise this year.

The Atomic Punks — the Motley Crue Tribute band — kicked off the final day and was followed by Night Ranger. Grand Funk Railroad and Heart closed the Jam on a high note in front off another large crowd estimated at about 18,000.

Kathy said Neste Events Marketing, the talent booking agent out of Nashville that was hired this year for Moondance Jam and Jammin’ Country, did a fantastic job of watching for and getting the best acts to meet the budget that was set.

“The music was great. We had a real nice mixture and we had so many people say the overall package was fantastic,” she commented. “Out headliners were absolutely fantastic.”

Mark said he also enjoyed all the performers, stating there was something for everyone. “It covers a broad range of music. We had a little bit of new, a little bit of old and a little bit of in-between.”

Camping Contest

There’s a reason Moondance is called “The Campin’ and Jammin’ Event of the Summer.”

Nine years ago a Camping Contest was started to recognize the creative talents. Judging is based on quality and originality.

Every year Jammers decorate their camp site using a theme, which this year was “All Summer Long.”

There were about 15 to 20 campsites looked at in prelims with final judging conducted Friday afternoon.

White Trailer Trash, a group of Jammers from Becker, were the grand champion.

The three runners-up were Red Solo Cup from Roseau, Whoville from Rugby, N.D., and the Moonliters from Fort Ripley.

The Lifetime Achievement, a new award started this year, went to Carnival Corner, a group of Jammers from Argyle.

Every winner gets six three-day Jam passes for 2013 with the grand champion receiving passes to the Poser Deck Saturday night to watch the band of their choice.

The Becker Jammers chose to watch Grand Funk Railroad perform at 9 p.m.

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