MANKATO — Sena Erhardt made a pint-sized new fan Saturday afternoon at the Riverbend Blues Festival at Mankato’s Riverfront Park.
Admittedly, Mikayla Waskul isn’t the biggest blues fan. Most 10-year-olds aren’t. But something about Erhardt’s soulful vibe moved Mikayla to dance in the great lawn beyond the tiered limestone seating.
She dug Erhardt so much that she, her little brother Elijah, and her dad, Dennis Waskul, waited in line to buy a CD and have Erhardt sign Mikayla’s pink Frisbee.
“She was good,” said Mikayla of Mankato. “I liked her.”
Elijah agreed. So did Levi Weinberg, another little kid whose grandparents brought him all the way from Windom to hear some good tunes Saturday. Levi was another non-blues fan, unlike his grandparents. Jackie Weinberg said Lamont Cranston and Jonny Lang are their favorites, so they had a pretty good night of entertainment ahead of them.
But Levi kept an open mind as he waited for Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials to take the stage. And he thought Erhardt wasn’t bad at all.
“We should have sat up front,” he said.
Besides a growing appreciation for the blues, the kids at Riverfront Park had another thing in common: They got in free. Which, for some, was why they got in at all.
“The free admission greatly (affected our decision),” Jackie said.
Mom Michele Waskul said the savings was a nice perk for sure. But they’d still have brought the kids. They love going to events at Riverfront Park as a family so much that they actually bought a sun tent to pitch that shades them all comfortably. They carry it with fold-up chairs and other supplies into the park, set up shop on the lawn, and they’re set for a full afternoon of music.
They even would have come if the heat wave hadn’t broken Saturday.
“We just like coming to the park,” Dennis said.
Eric Jones, marketing manager of the Verizon Wireless Center, said this is the first summer kids are getting in free to a couple of events at the park. The idea is to “encourage families to come out and spend the day,” he said.
Jones said both the music and the “perfect” afternoon weather also helped bring out the youngsters.