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Bringing the hills alive: New music festival set in ‘natural amphitheater’

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Dan Brekke performs last summer at the Coteau des Prairies lodge. The Dan Brekke Band is one of the acts scheduled to play the festival Saturday. PhotoRx Media / Special to The Forum 2 / 4
The first Tewaukon Music Festival will take place Saturday in the “natural amphitheater” in the hills surrounding the Coteau des Prairies lodge near Rutland. PhotoRx Media / Special to The Forum 3 / 4
Phillip Breker, who helped organize the music festival, strolls the grounds of the Breker farm with his father, Joe. Amy Schulz / Special to The Forum4 / 4

RUTLAND, N.D. – The hills here will soon be alive with the sound of music.

The rolling landscape surrounding the Coteau des Prairies Lodge will serve as the “natural amphitheater” for the first Tewaukon Music Festival, a family-friendly event meant to allow visitors to enjoy live music from regional acts while taking in the land’s natural beauty.

The lodge, about an hour and a half drive from Fargo, is situated near the North Dakota-South Dakota border on the 3,000-acre Breker family farm, which runs a beef-cattle operation and grows crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans.

Phillip Breker, who grew up on the farm, organizes lodge events and runs its website and social media, says lodge events allow his family to share its views of the prairie and the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge with others.

“It’s just this incredible diversity of landscape and ecology and wildlife and nature,” he says.

Breker hopes events like the Tewaukon Music Festival, specialty dinners, retreats and workshops held at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge will help revitalize hospitality and entertainment in rural North Dakota.

“What we really want to do is get people out of their normal routines and the cities they live in and out in the country to see where their food comes from and what it’s really like to be out in open spaces,” he says.

The stage for the music festival, which will host four groups throughout the day and night, will be set up at the bottom of the 100-foot drop-off from the lodge, facing it. Guests are encouraged to bring their own camping chairs or blankets to sit on.

The first musical act to perform at the Tewaukon Music Festival, The Benson Family (parents Pete and Rachelle and sons David, Aaron and Luke), describe their sound as a mix of barbershop, bluegrass and gospel.

Moorhead’s own Dan Brekke will boot-stomp his way through a 90-minute set from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with his band, The Dan Brekke Band, a four-piece including mom Kathie.

Hazen, N.D.’s sweethearts Kendra and Krista Slaubaugh of Tigirlily will charm guests with their poppy folk/country at 7:30, and 2 Mile Final, a Southern-rock band from Minneapolis, closes out the night.

Both Brekke and Tigirlily have played the lodge since it opened a couple years ago, but this will be their first time playing outdoors there.

“I love it,” Brekke says of the location. “Everything out there is massive. The hill is massive, the building is massive. I’ve never seen it converted like this before, but I can definitely see why they (the Brekers) think it could be conducive to this kind of event, because it’s just perfect.”

Between sets, visitors can catch a hay or horse ride, play on inflatable games, get their faces painted, watch a magician perform tricks, or sample the local food and drink options. They have the option to camp out on the grounds overnight for $10 per vehicle, but without access to electricity or running water.

Brekke hopes to see the festival grow, much like another you may have heard of.

“When WE Fest started, it was just a trailer at the bottom of the ranch, and that was it,” he says. “Now you look out and there’s 60,000 people filling up that whole Soo Pass Ranch.”

If you go

What: The first Tewaukon Music Festival, featuring The Benson Family, The Dan Brekke Band, Tigirlily and 2 Mile Final

When: Gates open at 11 a.m. Saturday; the first musical act starts at 3 p.m.

Where: Coteau des Prairies Lodge near Rutland.

Info: Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for ages 17 and younger, free for kids 5 and younger, and are available online at or at the gate.

Online: To learn more about the Tewaukon Music Festival and the Coteau des Prairies Lodge, visit

Meredith Holt

Meredith Holt is a features/business reporter for The Forum who covers topics in health, mental health, social issues, women's issues, arts and entertainment, food and more. She also writes a column on health and wellness, body image and media representationShe was a copy editor/page designer for six years prior to joining the features team in March 2012.

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