Annual event returns July 7-10
BY BRIAN RZEPPA
One of Downriver’s biggest events of the summer, the Uncle Sam Jam, returns to Civic Center Park in Woodhaven July 7-10.
The Uncle Sam Jam has developed a strong following over the last seven years and the event’s organizers hope to build on that this year, with possibly the biggest music lineup that they’ve had to this point.
The legendary Vince Neil, former frontman for Motley Crue, will be headlining the musical performances with Great White on Saturday, while .38 Special will appear Friday and perennial Downriver favorite 50 Amp Fuse will close things down on Sunday.
Joe Nieporte, the owner of Funfest Events, the company responsible for organizing the Uncle Sam Jam each year, says that festivalgoers should be expecting the same great event they have experienced over the years.
“It’s been very successful and we don’t want to change too much,” Nieporte said. “As the saying goes, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ We’ve always leaned heavily toward classic rock bands and we’re doing that this year with .38 Special, Vince Neil, Great White and 50 Amp Fuse, so we feel that we have quite a lineup that people will really enjoy.”
In addition to the musical performances, the carnival will be another big hit with families, as will the petting zoo and monster truck rides.
While the event may be the same in terms of the classic music and other attractions, the layout will see a bit of a shift. With weather being a major factor in last year’s event, Nieporte and the rest of his crew chose to switch things up a bit.
“We’re flip flopping everything over. The carnival was in the southern part of the park over by the hill and soccer fields, but we’re moving it to the north side toward the parking lot. We had so much rain last year that it was a swamp and we had 18 trucks of wood chips brought in to fill the puddles, but even that wasn’t enough. We figured it’d be a better idea to have it on the paved parking lot.”
With 75,000 to 80,000 or more expected to be on hand throughout the four days, the Uncle Sam Jam has quickly become one of the more popular weekend events in southeastern Michigan.
As Nieporte noted, the event’s rise to popularity comes with the feedback and support of both the city of Woodhaven and the Downriver community as a whole.
“The reception has been incredible,” he said. “The community down there absolutely embraces it and the city of Woodhaven is phenomenal to work with. The mayor, the police chief, the fire chief and everyone down the line is 100 percent on board and supportive of us. We do events in other towns and some of them just couldn’t care less, but the whole Downriver community has supported this better than we could have ever dreamed of.”
The Uncle Sam Jam has seemingly gotten better each and every year that it has been in operation and with the loaded music lineup, the Friday night fireworks and a variety of other entertainment options, this year should have no problem continuing that trend.
For more information on the attractions and Uncle Sam Jam schedule, visit www.funfest-events.net/uncle-sam-jam/ or find them on Facebook at “UncleSam JamFest”.
Uncle Sam Jam Friday, July 8, Headliner
From: Jacksonville, Florida
Biggest Hits: “Hold on Loosely,” “Caught Up in You,” “If I’d Been the One,” “Teacher Teacher” and “Back Where You Belong”
Formed by neighborhood friends Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant, .38 Special got its name from the Lynard Skynyrd song ‘Saturday Night Special’ which features the lyrics, “Shoots him full of .38 holes.”
Van Zant is the brother of Ronnie Van Zant, the late vocalist for Lynard Skynyrd.
Barnes is the only original member still with the band, with each of the others joining him in 1987, 1988, 1997 and 2011, respectively.
Over the course of the last 42 years, the band has sold more than 20 million albums
In 2012, the band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame with country stars Sugarland and Blues legend Johnny Jenkins, among others
The band has had two albums reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks chart and multiple other top five singles
They appear in over 100 cities each year
Within the last decade, they have opened for Hank Williams Jr., Lynard Skynyrd, Styx and REO Speedwagon as part of two different nationwide tours