Annual music festival a smashing success

Members of the large crowd at Oyster Ridge Music Festival cheer as one of the many musical acts performs on Saturday at Kemmerer’s Triangle Park. (COURTESY PHOTO/Jennifer Dunford)

KEMMERER — The mission statement of Kemmerer’s Oyster Ridge Music Festival (ORMF) committee is to bring art to a rural community, enhance the quality of life through educational and cultural experiences, build partnerships with other entities, and to generate a substantial economic impact. 

To fulfill that commitment, the volunteers who make up that committee spend a year donating countless hours writing grants, raising funds, booking bands and soliciting the support of the entire community.  For 27 years, volunteers have donated their time to make the festival a success.  Only one time in those years was the festival canceled and that was in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Serving on the organizing committee for the 2021 event were Thomas Lively, Heidi Currutt, Korkee Crank, Jonathan Willoughby, Mandie Dovey, Mary Lively, Alice Sears, and Barry Wergin. All worked tirelessly with a strong commitment to achieve the goal of their mission statement.

Thomas Lively, ORMF booking chair said, “This year’s festival cost $107,000 to put on and it is a free event for anyone who attends. We spend all year writing grants and seeking donations.  We are extremely grateful to the city of Kemmerer, our donors and the people who helped and to those who attended. We couldn’t do this without their support.”

Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24, 2021 the ORMF was celebrated for the 26th time and it was a huge success, Lively said. He told the Gazette that he estimated approximately 6,000 people attended the festival over the two days. The City of Kemmerer offered free camping sites during the festival.

Bands from all over the U.S. entertained the crowds beginning at noon on Friday and playing until 11 p.m. and then again on Saturday from 10 a.m. until midnight. The headlining band, Yonder Mountain String Band from Boulder, Colorado, was said to have wowed the crowds.  Other bands included Reckless Kelly, Tim Montana, Michigan Rattlers, The Rightly So, Freddy Jones Band, Goodnight Texas, Wheelwright, Reckless Rooster and Robin and Dan Kessinger.

Committee member Heidi Currutt said she has been volunteering with ORMF for 17 years and Lively, who is her brother, has been a volunteer for 10 years. Currutt said the festival was started in 1994 and began as a very small event but has grown in popularity and support over the years to become one the major cultural events in Wyoming.

“We had a number of bands booked for 2020,” Lively said, “and when we had to cancel, we contacted the bands and all but three decided to rebook for 2021. We decided with the still-ever-present virus that we would only do two days this year, so we moved the bands scheduled for Sunday to the Friday and Saturday venues. The headliner band came on Saturday. It is a wonderful opportunity to do the booking of bands. I’ve met interesting and very talented people who are blown away that we offer the entire festival free.”

Lively said they wouldn’t be able to get the big-name bands and do such a huge event without their sponsors who each contribute at least $5,000 or more.

The ORMF committee has already chosen the dates for the 2022 festival and will start immediately to organize, fundraise, and book bands. The three days for next year’s ORMP will be July 22-24.

“Mark the dates on your calendar now and check out our website: oysterridgemusicfestival.com,” Lively said.

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