Remembering our Roots at Oyster Ridge Music Festival

The Powell Brothers were the last act to perform on Friday night at Oyster Ridge. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis) 

Kemmerer is normally a quiet place. There’s plenty of places to park, everyone knows your name, and the busiest place on a Friday night is the movie theater.

But last weekend, Triangle Park came alive with the sounds of bluegrass, folk and rock music for the 24th annual Oyster Ridge Music Festival.

Visitors came from all across Wyoming and even the nation to attend the free festival, turning Kemmerer into one big party.

“It’s tradition,” they say as they settle into their camp chairs for the long weekend to listen to music, drink and eat all sorts of festival foods, from the tried and true favorite corn dogs to newcomers selling pizzas and Philly cheesesteaks. 

Locals and visitors danced to the great Oyster Ridge music in Triangle Park all weekend long.  (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

The three-day event, which was held this year from July 27 to 29, has been a local tradition ever since its humble beginnings in  1994.

Michael Clark, one of the original founders of the Oyster Ridge Music Festival, was honored on Saturday afternoon. Clark passed away in November. His wife Pam was present to receive a plaque thanking the Clarks for their role in making every year of Oyster Ridge better than the last.

Oyster Ridge brings both new and well-known bands to the Triangle. The caliber of acts — including Grammy winners and national touring bands — is practically unheard of for a free festival.

New Kemmerer police officer Kale McGee competes in the hula hoop contest at Oyster Ridge Music Festival. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)

As always, the Kessinger Brothers were the first to perform this year. Robin Kessinger performed at the first festival in 1994. Sheridan-based folk band The Two Tracks were next. Then Tom Bennett and Rooster brought plenty of stories to tell as they played songs on a well-worn fiddle and Dobro guitar.

Music continued late into Friday night with crowd-favorite Mike Mangione and the Kin, The Brevet and the energetic Powell Brothers. Early risers on Saturday watched the Bandscramble, then listened to performances by the Dodgy Mountain Men and theHackensaw Boys. Humming House and The Steeldrivers played to a completely packed Triangle Park on Saturday night.

Mike Mangione and the Kin perform at Oyster Ridge. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts) 

On Sunday, the festival finished off with the State Flatpick and Fingerpick competition, and performances by Moors and McCumber and Grant Farm.

Next year is the 25th year of the Oyster Ridge Music Festival, and organizers and attendees are already making plans. After all, Oyster Ridge really is something special.

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