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Which comes first? For some WE Fest fans, it's the entertainment;

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Mary Anenson of Thief River Falls, Minn., was anxiously waiting for double-platinum country musician Jo Dee Messina to take the stage at WE Fest Friday night. She didn't just want to get an autograph from the Academy o...

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Mary Anenson of Thief River Falls, Minn., was anxiously waiting for double-platinum country musician Jo Dee Messina to take the stage at WE Fest Friday night. She didn't just want to get an autograph from the Academy of Country Music's 1999 top new female artist, she wanted to present a pillow she had made for Messina.

"I love her music, she has good music. She's a great person," Anenson said.

Anenson saw her three years ago in concert.

"Now she has a lot more dancing in her show," she said.

Fargo favorite Brennen Leigh opened for Messina.

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Messina, on her Slim Fast tour, came on stage in form-fitting jeans and a white tank top. She immediately went into "I'll Do The Dancing" with the crowd already on its feet. Her No. 1 hit "I'm Alright" got them dancing, too.

Diane Lambrecht of Sleepy Eye, Minn., was looking forward to songs like "That's The Way It Is" off the 2000 "Burn" CD. Lambrecht, with Messina's red hair blazing from a former concert T-shirt, said, "I've been a fan of hers since she started out."

But Lambrecht is also a fan of several other performers at this year's event, including Toby Keith, Martina McBride and Sawyer Brown.

Barb Maasjo, her sister LaVonne Selberg, both of Pelican Rapids, Minn., and their friend LaVonne Lundeen of Harwood, N.D., said they were excited to see Alabama later in the night. And their excitement about the whole weekend was evident.

Each wore a blue T-shirt that reads "We Be Festin Den."

"It's our Scandinavian heritage," Maasjo said.

Maasjo, Selberg, and Lundeen have attended WE Fest for the last 10 years. They camp in the VIP parking behind the main stage.

"That's the only way to go," Lundeen said.

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The first day, they each wear a T-shirt that says "We Be Pre-Festin" and on the third day it's "We Be Festin Den Again." They had to make a special T-shirt this year as a fourth day was added, "We Be Restin Tomorrow."

"We love the music and we like to watch the people," Lundeen said.

"It's just a nice break," Selberg added.

Matt Breuer of Aitkin, Minn., came to WE Fest for two reasons. One is to see Sawyer Brown. For the other, he points to the beer can in his hand.

This was the first time Michelle Adcock, also of Aitkin had been to the fest, and she already knows she wants to come again.

"It's just a big party," she says. "Everybody's having fun. Everybody's happy and having a good time."

Fans who didn't have tickets for the meet and greet with Messina could have their pictures taken with a cardboard cut-out of the singer at a Slim Fast promotional booth.

George Keim had his picture taken there, but he's not a fan of Messina. He is a fan of

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WE Fest in general. Keim has come from Tuscon, Ariz., for the last two years.

"It's a damn good time," Keim said. "The music is great, everyone is friendly."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 235-7311

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