RED WING -- The Big Turn Music Festival was launched in 2018. Before the third annual event Feb. 21-23, the planner took a rare break to attend Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual business of the year awards... and they won the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce’s Arts & Entertainment, Lodging, Recreation & Tourism Business of the Year.

Sam Brown is the creator of Big Turn. After working to co-create a festival in Oregon and then starting the Midwest Music Fest in Winona, Minnesota, Brown returned to his hometown to try and bring excitement to the dark and cold months .

“It’s just a great way for us to showcase Red Wing in the winter and the unique things it has to offer,” said Chris Warrington, one of the Big Turn staff members

The “music crawl,” as Brown describes it, brings in hundreds of bands and dozens of volunteers for the two-day event each year. And thousands of people

As anyone who lives in Red Wing or has attended the festival knows, the Friday and Saturday of Big Turn are filled with musicians who pack into a variety of venues to share their tunes. People from near and far are attracted to the variety of talent.

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While this event is citywide, it begins in a small office space above Red Wing Corner Drug. There the team makes plans for the festival and coordinates which groups will participate and where they will perform, along with the numerous other details that need to be considered to ensure that the two day event goes smoothly.

During the annual event, the offices are pushed to the maximum capacity with bands and solo artists checking in, volunteers picking-up various items, reporters claiming their press passes and Brown and other team members solving any day-of issues that arise.

When planning the first Big Turn, Brown was very specific about which weekend would host the festival.

“I wanted it to be a true winter event, not a pseudo winter event like the Midwest Music Fest,” Brown explained.

The event was not held a week earlier because Brown did not want to impose on Valentine’s Day.

“You can’t mess with Valentine’s Day,” he explained to the Republican Eagle.

If it were the last weekend of February, it would be close to and possibly spill into March, creating more of an early spring festival than an authentically winter event. (And he couldn't have known three years ago, but also would have collided with the rise in the U.S. of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.)

The ultimate goal for the festival is to help people have a good time. Brown explained, “The vision for the festival is to create an atmosphere of fun and creativity where everyone can be themselves and have an amazing time while doing so.”