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Wood City Music Festival draws crowds

Shawn Cavallo, the lead singer for Manic Drive, of Toronto, gave a high-energy performance. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal1 / 5
Matt Fuqua of The Afters plays the keyboard as the band closed the fifth annual Wood City Music Festival on Saturday, Aug. 11. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal2 / 5
Manic Drive drummer plays Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Wood City Music Festival. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal3 / 5
Anthem Lights encouraged the crowd to participate in a dance-off to earn the right to go onto the stage with the band. They chose one guy and one girl to compete against each other on-stage. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal4 / 5
Brothers Shawn and Michael Cavello of Manic Drive perform Saturday, Aug. 11, at Wood City Music Festival in Cloquet. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal5 / 5

People of all ages jumped up and down while waving their arms in the air and singing enthusiastically with the bands.

In spite of the near 90-degree weather, the crowds showed up excited for the fifth annual Wood City Music Festival on Saturday, Aug, 11, in Cloquet's Veterans Park.

Lee Harris, spokesperson for Kingdom Builders Ministries, estimated about 3,000-4,000 people braved the heat to enjoy the 11 bands. A 12th act couldn't make it due to bad weather in New York.

People sat under umbrellas and giant blue tent umbrellas that could shelter an entire family.

Children ran and played together. Teens enjoyed tossing footballs and playing in the gaga ball pits.

As the evening neared and temperatures dropped, more people drifted into the park.

The band Anthem Lights invited fans onto the stage to sing and participate in a dance-off as they sang mashup songs.

Returning band Manic Drive came from Toronto to give a high-energy performance that kept the crowds attention as they sang along.

Although Harris said he does not plan to change the festival, he does want a new lineup next year.

"We need to mix it up," Harris said.

Harris said the artists frequently commented about how much fun the crowds are at the festival.

Twelve churches of various denominations work together to organize the event.

"The Sunday morning speaker told us he talks about Cloquet everywhere he goes," Harris said.

The free event is family friendly, as evident in the many generations sitting together in the audience.

"I am elated with how the festival has grown," Harris said. "It has grown at the right pace."

The first year brought in about 1,500 people, while last year saw about 8,000-9,000. Harris said he believes numbers were slightly down this year.

He said the vision for the festival was not to have the biggest in the state, but rather to show the community it is not boring to be Christian.

"We can have fun," Harris said.