Grammy Award Winner Clay Hess Band Headlines Music at 2019 World Ploughing Contest

The 2019 World Ploughing Contest has it’s annual contest in a different country each year.  There are 32 countries involved, hence, this contest comes to the U.S. about once every 30 years.  This year, this worldwide event is being held at Lake of the Woods, MN just south of Baudette, MN.  There will be the best ploughers from across the globe, great food, beer garden, various vendors, antique tractor and plow display, draft horses and mules.  If this isn’t quite enough, there will also be top notch musical performances and headlining this event is the Grammy Award Winning Clay Hess Band from Nashville, TN.

Clay Hess.  Clay Hess is from Athens, Ohio and is the leader of The Clay Hess Band.  Clay Hess, 2019 World Ploughing Contest, Lake of the Woods MN

Clay’s first introduction to many was as the lead guitarist for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, winning a Grammy Award during his tenure there. After departing Skaggs, Hess toured and recorded with several of the top bands in the genre. With the help of long time friend and musical comrade Randy Kohrs, Clay recorded his critically acclaimed solo CD “Rain” with the title track going to #1 on the Bluegrass Today chart. The success of the project directly led to the formation of The Clay Hess Band in 2012.

“Growing up in a musical family, it wasn’t hard to find an instrument laying around to plunk on”. Pair that with having a desire to learn, a passion for music, and a wealth of people to learn from and you get a musician. “Having a family of talented players and singers is an advantage if you can keep your ears open and your mouth shut. I should have done more of both.” Today with The Clay Hess Band you can hear the result of all the jam sessions, bar gigs, bluegrass festivals, and hours learning from relatives/musicians/recordings. Known for his syncopated sense of timing, Hess always tries to keep you guessing what is coming next .

The Clay Hess Band goes back into the studio this fall to record their sophomore effort.

Blue Hazard.  With a relentless desire to make an emotional connection with their audience, Blue Hazard mixes their love of contemporary mediums with old-soul roots to create an impactful musical experience. Evolving from a novice family band into dedicated and earnest musicians, the group impresses listeners with their crisp harmonies, complex arrangements, and honest & diverse songwriting.  Blue Hazard, World Ploughing Contest, Lake of the Woods MN

The five-piece formed in 2000 and is comprised of three siblings and two friends. In 2012, they debuted “This World of Mine” — their first album consisting of mostly original songs. Progressing further, the band released their first all-original album “Sideshow” on July 7, 2017

Sarah Mae and the Birkeland Boys.  

Homegrown Minnesota bluegrass and gospel that will make you smile, stir your spirit and touch your soul. Sarah Mae and ‘the boys’ blend “relative” harmonies with a toe-tapping mix of original songs and traditional bluegrass and gospel music. The family band entertains audiences of all musical tastes and ages — mixing skillful instrumentation with engaging harmonies and a kindred spirit that is reflected in meaningful (and fun) songs about faith, hope … and life.  Sarah Mae and the Birkeland Boys, World Ploughing Contest, Lake of the Woods

The band shares stories and songs about the importance of family, overcoming hardship, the relevance of faith, and reasons for hope in a troubled world.  Sarah Mae and ‘the boys’ have performed throughout Minnesota and the Midwest at festivals, fairs, churches, and private events.

You can hear their music, or add them to your favorite playlists, on Spotify or YouTube.

The family has been making music together around campfires and Christmas trees since the kids came along and has been performing formally since 2013. The band has produced two recordings,  releasing their debut CD, It’s Time, in 2014 followed by Standing on the Rock in 2018. In a review of their debut disc, legendary Minnesota instrument maker and musician Lloyd LaPlant said, “They knocked it out of the Park. I like every song.” And in a review John Chabot, from Minnesota Bluegrass magazine added, “It’s Time, features an exceptional playlist of mostly original bluegrass, folk and gospel songs.”

You can also find the band’s music on iTunesAmazon and other digital music outlets. Or … listen right here! We have several audio clips and videos here on our web site we hope you’ll enjoy.

Contact us at or message us on Facebook and we’ll send a disc your way — or  let us know if you’d like us to play for your church, festival or community event. We’ll share the gift of music and stir your heart, mind — and soul.

Sloughgrass.  Sloughgrass band Biography The Sloughgrass band, from Birchdale, Minnesota, is a family affair with Grandma Audrey Nelson setting the rhythm on the upright bass. Her two daughters, two sons-in-law and two of her grandchildren, sometimes a third, a cousin or some friends also join the band. Everyone in the family started learning to play their instruments around the same time back in 2002 from a traveling teacher, Dale Blatter, who would stop by grandma’s house on Monday nights. Eventually they looked around the living room and realized that they had a band even though that had never been the intention.Sloughgrass, World Ploughing Contest, Lake of the Woods

The band’s music is a blend of Bluegrass, Gospel, Country, Old-time, Scandinavian, and Folk music. All of the group members take turns on the vocal and instrumental pieces. The group’s spokes person Søren emigrated from Denmark 1989 and married Audrey’s youngest daughter Judith. Christine the older sister married David who grew up in International Falls. They all reside as the fourth generation in the hamlet of Birchdale, Minnesota, a small unincorporated town in far northern Koochiching County situated on the banks of the Rainy River half-way between International Falls and Baudette. Sloughgrass has performed throughout Minnesota at a wide variety of events since about 2003.

MN 13.  Just as the days of prohibition have a strong history in central MN, the roots of the duo MN 13 trace back through the family histories of Pete Gruber and Scott Spanier, including that earlier members of their families had played music together.

MN 13, World Ploughing Contest, Lake of the WoodsMN 13 had it’s beginning when Pete and Scott got together one evening to play guitar over a glass of Templeton Rye Whiskey.  As it turned out, all three were a perfect blend!  After having spent many years playing with multiple groups, MN 13 had found it’s groove and began refining their sound – performing on a limited, but ever expanding basis.

Their similar music interests and complimentary playing and vocal styles are what makes this duo a perfect blend of both past and present, easy listening “coffee house style” music.  Their humorous, easy going personalities are ever present and have made them a popular act to catch in central MN.

There will be a lot happening at the 2019 World Ploughing Contest.  This event comes to the United States once every 30 years, we hope you can make it!

Admission for the three day event is just $25 through purchasing the official “World Ploughing Button”.  The button can be purchased in advance through Lake of the Woods Tourism.  Go to to find out more about the 2019 World Ploughing Contest taking place near Baudette, MN Aug 30 – Sep 1, 2019.

Click Here to find out more about the 2019 World Ploughing Contest taking place near Baudette, MN Aug 30 – Sep 1, 2019.


To learn more about Lake of the Woods, check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism website.

To find a guide, charter boat or lodging, check out our lodging page.

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