KEMMERER — The final weekend of July in Kemmerer can only mean it’s time once again for the Oyster Ridge Music Festival, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary silver jubilee this year.
What began 25 years ago through an effort to host the Wyoming State Flatpick Guitar championship has continued and grown into a premier free music event for music lovers throughout the area.
Festivities kick off Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. with opening ceremonies, followed by a performance by national flatpick champion Robin Kessinger, who himself has been instrumental in the growth and success of ORMF. Friday performances will also include Joe Pug at 3 p.m., Stephen Kellogg at 5 p.m., Will Evans & Rising Tide at 7 p.m. and Red Wanting Blue at 9 p.m.
Saturday morning begins with the ever-popular Infamous Band Scramble, described as one of the most popular annual events. Musicians will be randomly grouped into bands to perform for the crowd, with winners selected by the audience. Registration for the band scramble opens at 9 a.m. with performances from 10 a.m. to noon.
Following the band scramble, Kessinger will again take the stage at noon. Escaping Pavement performs at 1 p.m., Farewell Milwaukee at 3 p.m., Ghost of Paul Revere at 5 p.m., The Dead South at 7 p.m. and Barefoot Truth close out the day at 9 p.m.
On Sunday morning audiences have an opportunity to see and hear the event that launched the ORMF in the first place — the Wyoming State Flatpick and Fingerpick Competitions, which start at 10 a.m. with registration at 9 a.m. Kessinger performs for a third consecutive day, taking the stage at noon. Sunday closes out with Tom Bennett & Rooster at 1 p.m. and the Ben Morrison Band at 3 p.m.
Food and craft vendors will be set up around the perimeter of Triangle Park. Wristbands must be purchased for beer purchase and consumption. Proceeds from the sale of beer and wristbands are used to pay performers for next year’s festival.
As always, free camping will be available for Wyoming’s most popular music festival; however, donations are always appreciated. A pancake breakfast will be served for a small fee by the Kemmerer Rotary Club on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Free bus rides will also be offered, running every 30 minutes with pick-ups in front of the JC Penney Homestead Museum and at designated hotels and campgrounds.
The festival is sure to provide a weekend of great music, food and family fun. Pamela Bird of the ORMF committee said, “What can I say in a few words about 25 years of free live music? I’ve been involved in one way or the other since the beginning and it only continues to get better. There isn’t another place in the intermountain west that brings such a high caliber of music in an open public forum — and it’s free!”