The Lodi Grape Festival is on the horizon. The annual event — part food and wine festival, part carnival and part music fest — will return from Sept. 12 to 15.
There is still a lot of planning ahead in the next couple of months to put on the big bash, but one area is covered: entertainment. Mark Armstrong, manager of the Grape Festival, released a list of this year’s musical acts, clowns, magicians, race car enthusiasts, wildlife and other entertainers.
“We feel really good about our lineup,” Armstrong said.
On opening night — Thursday, Sept. 12 — The Box Family Music’s David Atencio will host the fan-favorite local talent showcase once again. The yearly talent show puts the spotlight on talented locals who want to share their music with the festival.
Elton Rohn — The Premier Elton John Tribute Show will be the headliner on Thursday. The tribute show has worked with several artists and photographers — including John Rowlands, who has photographed the rock star himself — to put on an amazing visual extravaganza. Costumes, live music and vocals, and high energy re-create the feel and sound of a real Elton John show.
With the Elton John musical biography “Rocketman” out in theaters recently, Armstrong said the Grape Festival jumped at the chance to bring Elton Rohn to Lodi.
The Grass Roots have been playing music since the 1960s, with their biggest years from 1966 to 1975. With hits like “Midnight Confessions” and “Let’s Live For Today,” they’ll bring their folk rock sound to the Michelob Ultra Stage on Friday, Sept. 13.
Los Lonely Boys, known for their “Texican” rock, will bring hits like “Heaven,” “Señorita” and “There’s Always Tomorrow” to Lodi on Saturday, Sept. 14.
And American funk legends WAR — known for “Low Rider,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “Spill the Wine” — will return to the Grape Festival on Sunday, Sept. 15.
“WAR has been so popular for us,” Armstrong said.
The band last appeared at the Grape Festival in 2017, and drew a huge crowd. It wasn’t their first time at the Grape Festival, either, and Armstrong hopes their fans will turn out to enjoy their hits once again.
The Grape Festival hasn’t always brought in big-name music acts — though Lawrence Welk did hold a concert at the Lodi Grape Bowl during the 1958 festival.
“That was a pretty big booking for them,” Armstrong said.
So big, in fact, that a few years ago, a fan asked if he could bring Welk back. Unfortunately, the North Dakota-born entertainer with Lodi ties passed away in 1992.
Armstrong and other festival staff have been working to bring in acts with national reach over the past 15 years or so — but they haven’t neglected local performers.
“We get so many requests every year for people who want to play at the fair,” he said.
He and his team listen to CDs — and go out to see performers live when they can — before choosing those they believe will bring a variety of excellent music to the four-day event.
It’s not all music, either.
This year’s festival sees the return of the popular Swan Bros. Circus and Walk on the Wild Side, along with new attractions like magician-comedian Arty Loon, Wildlife Wendy and her Tropical Birds, and EyeVentures, which will bring mind-bending optical illusions to festival-goers.
Also new this year is J.D. Platt & the K9 Kings Dog Show, which features all kinds of amazing dog tricks.
“The dog show, I think, is going to be fantastic,” Armstrong said.
The full line-up so far:
All headliners will perform on the Michelob Ultra Stage.
- Elton Rhon — The Premier Elton John Tribute: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12.
- The Grass Roots: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13
- Los Lonely Boys: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14
- WAR: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15
- Arty Loon: Magic and comedy.
- Bluegrass Festival: A Saturday afternoon of bluegrass music from three different bands.
- The Box Family Music: Popular local band that also hosts the local musicians showcase on opening night.
- The Buck Fifties: Local rock/country band.
- Callbox: An eclectic Turlock-based band.
- EyeVentures: An optical illusion attraction.
- Good Time Charlie: A popular Lodi-based country band.
- J.D. Platt & the K9 Kings Dog Show: The fastest frisbee dog in the world anchors this high-flying performance.
- Latin Magic Band: The 209-based favorite specializes in cumbia, oldies and Latin rock.
- Lodi Community Band: Local musicians will entertain with traditional favorites.
- Martin Mancuso: Professional saxophone player and singer.
- Mystic Moon: Tribute to Fleetwood Mac.
- NASCAR Experience: Interactive exhibit with driving simulator, pit stop challenge and more.
- Powerhouse: Dance group ranging from clogging to square dancing.
- Swan Bros. Circus: A 35-year tradition of clowning and fun.
- Walk on the Wild Side: Wild animals turn a section of the festival into a safari zone.
- Wildlife Wendy and her Tropical Birds: See birds from all over the world.