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      Hiawatha Music Festival kicks off at Tourist Park

      Many people see Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival as the best part of the summer. For some, it is a tradition that brings them back year after year. Like Craig VanOtteran, who first attended the festival in 1999.

      â??My favorite thing about the festival has to be the peopleâ?? said VanOtteran. â??It is everything from friends to the players in the bands and just the easy-going nature of this festival.â??

      Some groups have three generations at the festival for the weekend, like Timothy Leahy, who has been coming to the festival for over twelve years.

      â??This is the highlight of the year, Hiawatha, for usâ?? said Leahy. â??It is good for the community; it really ties a lot of people together even more.â??

      It's not just about the music for most people attending.

      â??Every year it's just a good timeâ?? said Leahy. â??You meet a lot of the same people you see every year. It's all about friendship and having a good time, good music, family and friends.â??

      The fun doesn't stop after the bands leave the stage.

      â??I like those hours when the main stage shuts down and the musicians just grab their instruments and come back around and play until the sun comes upâ?? said VanOtteran. â??That's my favorite part of the day.â??

      The festival will run through Sunday evening with almost a dozen bands performing throughout the weekend. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the welcome tent.