JAY – Matt Bilodeau used his hands to direct a front-end loader operator to drop dirt and level it off in back of the Spruce Mountain ski lodge Wednesday.

It’s where a stage will be built for performers at Sprucestock Music Festival, set for 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26.

Spruce Mountain will host six bands: Chicago blues band Studebaker John & The Hawks, featuring Blind Pig, Evidence and Avanti Records recording artist Studebaker John Grimaldi on slide guitar, harp and vocals, backed by The Hawks rhythm section, Willie “The Touch” Hayes and bassist Bob Halaj with sound reinforcement by Jim Ferrari Sound, according to a new release promoting the event.

Also featured are Bilodeau with Matt & The Barnburners – harmonica blues and boogie; The 151 Band – old school rock and funk; The Roy Hudson Band – road house boogie; and Pat Pepin Project – saxophone blues.

Spruce Mountain Ski Club members have been bringing their lawn mowers to the mountain to mow the grass in the evenings to prepare the land for the festival and free camping Saturday night, which will be at the bottom of the Bunny, Face and Ear trails.

It’s the first summer music festival the club has offered.

Members are hoping to raise money to help with expenses of running the ski slope during the winter months.

The nonprofit club owns the equipment and operates the ski area while the towns of Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls own the land and buildings.

Bilodeau, who has organized blues bashes at his home, wants to make sure the ski area is around for years to come to continue to offer affordable skiing to more generations of youth.

“Pretty much as a club, it’s our obligation and duties to take care of the place,” Bilodeau said.

Bilodeau’s German shepherd, Maya, walked beside him as he went over the plans for the festival.

“We’ve talked about this for years,” he said.

Members had tried a summer challenge race but after a few years, the numbers of participants and profits dropped.

“This here is more of a money thing,” he said, “Where else can people go and see six bands for $15 (a piece). That’s a pretty good deal. The last band is a national act.”

Admission for children age 10 and under is $5.

Bilodeau, a club member for 23 years, doesn’t know how many people to expect but hopes at least 300 come and bring their lawn chairs, blankets and coolers.

“I started skiing here when I was 10. I skied on some pretty good junior ski teams and high school teams,” he said. “It’s a tremendous race hill for junior skiers.”

A lot of people wouldn’t be able to ski, especially kids, if it wasn’t for the affordable skiing and lessons offered at the mountain, he said.

“It’s still a cheap ticket,” Bilodeau said.

Last year, it cost the club $6,000 in diesel fuel to make snow.

As with many nonprofit groups, the club struggles to operate the 65-acre ski area.

“I believe last year, we were right down to our last $500 for fuel,” he said, including heating the place.

The club doesn’t generate any income in the summer.

“Hopefully, this will be a little shot in the arm in the summer time,” Bilodeau said.

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