R-O-C-K in the Co-op, eh?

Rich Mattson and the Northstars (Album photo by Jason Kokal)

The Mesaba Co-Op Park sits on the border between Cherry and Hibbing. You can’t escape this place as a key setting for Iron Range history. This refuge for mostly socialist Finnish immigrants became a playground and a proving ground for 20th Century leftist politics in Northern Minnesota.

Mesaba Co-op Park was founded in 1929 to provide low-cost recreation for the families of workers and immigrants. The park remains alive today, offering activities like the Aug. 3-5, 2018 Rockbee concert series.

And it’s still here! While the place continues to buzz with a left-leaning political vibe, it’s open to new members and occasionally holds public events.

Case in point, the Aug. 3-5, 2018 Mesaba Co-op Park “Rockabee” weekend concert series.

The park is owned and maintained by its members. They complete maintenance projects in sessions called “workbees.” During a workbee, members gather to fix, dig and clean. That’s a lot of toil, so they like to make a practice of having fun afterward.

That’s the origin story of “Rockbee,” now in its third year. The work done, the people will rock. The Iron Range Original Music Association got involved. They bring in top Northern Minnesota talent.

Friday night features Average Mammals, Rich Mattson and the Northstars, and The Brothers Burn Mountain.

Saturday gives you Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners, Iron Range Outlaw Brigade, Minneapolis-based Whale in the Thames, and Hobo Revival.

Sunday morning features a brunch with Steven Solkela playing his *highly* unique brand of polka accordion and original music.

A few of these bands have appeared on my Great Northern Radio Show. The rest are on my “someday” list. It’s a tight lineup of Minnesota music.

Tickets cost $10 for one night, just $15 for both nights. They’re only selling 250 tickets (hoping to have enough room for everyone), but will do all they can to let people in. You can get your tickets at the park, at the 218 Taphouse in Virginia, or by talking to a member of one of the bands.

Mesaba Co-op Park is located just off of Highway 37 east of Hibbing. Turn south at the Thirsty Moose.

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