Concerts in the Park

By Bailey Hovland

Jutting into the waters of Willmar Lake is Robbins Island, a regional park in the Willmar Lakes Area that comes alive in the summer. The rolling hills are covered in plush grass, a disc golf course circles the park, and Willmar’s Destination Playground is teeming with young children and their parents during the daylight hours. It’s a

It was a packed house, or lawn, at last year’s Rockin’ Robbins. From the stage all the way to the vendors in the back, lawn chairs overtook the Robbins Island grass lawn.

place to spend time outside in the fresh air, to play and laugh and grow, and to gather with the Willmar Lakes Area community, which is exactly why Robbins Island hosts Rockin’ Robbins.

This annual summer concert series is free and open to everyone. The 2018 Rockin’ Robbins concerts will kick off on Tuesday, July 17 at 5 p.m. with the opening act Church of Cash, a Johnny Cash tribute band. At 6:30 Matt Vee & The Killer Vees will be performing their set, a tribute to the stars of the golden age of country music. The band is a family affair, with Matt Vee joining his cousins, Tommy and Jeff Vee (sons of the late Bobby Vee), onstage to play their classic country set list.

The next Rockin’ Robbins will be Tuesday, July 24, featuring Callie Nelson as the opening act and Pamela McNeill as the main event. Callie Nelson is a Willmar native and has been performing around the state for the past few years at places like Lake Crystal and St. Cloud. And you might know Pamela McNeill from her performance at Rockin’ Robbins last year as a lead vocalist for the Fabulous Armadillos. This year she’s bringing her Fleetwood Mac tribute, “Rumours and Dreams” to the Rockin’ Robbins stage, playing alongside the likes of Mary Jane Alm, a Minnesota Music Hall of Famer, and Jeff Engholm of Collective Unconscious.

Last year the Growmobile made an appearance at the Rockin’ Robbins summer concert series, bringing arts and crafts with them for rockin’ kiddos.

On Tuesday, July 31, Hit List will be the opener for Big Toe and The Jam. Hit List is a Willmar-based band that plays classic rock, new rock, and both old and new country. They love to have fun and perform at all kinds of events, from weddings to street dances. Big Toe and the Jam was a popular band at the Summertime by George concert series in St. Cloud last year, and this year they’re bringing their rock, pop, R&B, and funk sound to Willmar. From James Brown, Journey, Bob Marley, and Aretha to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Eyed Peas, Beyoncé, and Christina Aguilera, this band covers almost all the musical bases.

The mobile wall from Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center towered over the scene at Rockin’ Robbins, giving concert-goers the option of seeing the concert from new heights!

The last Rockin’ Robbins concert will be on Tuesday, August 7, with the opener 1060 West Addison Blues. This musical group plays, you guessed it, blues. It’s more than likely that you’ll hear some classics from the Blues Brothers, and the 1060 West Addison Blues are likely to channel their music icons all the way down to their outfits. Closing this last event of the Rockin’ Robbins summer concert series will be the Fabulous Armadillos, a classic rock band that’s been performing at Rockin’ Robbins since its inception. Since 2006, this band has grown to have a loyal group of followers in Central Minnesota with their almost exact renditions of soft rock and classic rock hits.

And although the musical lineup is impressive, that’s not all Rockin’ Robbins has to offer. Each concert will have a free shuttle service, great food vendors, a beer and wine tent, an artisan market, and kids activities. In past years they’ve had bouncy houses from Fiesta Time Rentals and the mobile rock climbing wall from Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center! Proceeds will support the ongoing revitalization of Robbins Island Regional Park. With all these perks—free music, food vendors, free kids activities, the opportunity to support the Willmar Lakes Area community—I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be out at Rockin’ Robbins this summer. Find the full concert details here:

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