Hunter S. Thompson’s Owl Farm lies tucked into the hills above Woody Creek. A shuttle brought us from the parking area to the edge of a long yellow meadow falling back into the mountains. The first thing I noticed about Wildfest was the smiles on the faces of literally every single person that filed through the cut grass and into the festival area. Old bearded men in overalls, younger people looking for a night of fun, families, all shared smiles on their faces. The volunteers and police officers monitoring the entrance laughed and joked around with the guest more so than most events I’ve ever been to.
The festival was made to bring together the community in a celebration of wilderness and public lands. Food trucks from Slow Groovin’ BBQ and Aspen Skiing Company provided some great dinner. Suerte Tequila provided some delicious free samples and cocktails at the bar that kept everybody coming back all night.
The first band called Pearl & Wood hailed right here from Carbondale, Colorado. They featured a cello, banjo, and drums and provided a raw taste of Americana music while the sun still hung high in the sky. Despite their traditional bluegrass sound, they threw in an awesome cover of Glass Animals’ indie-electronic staple “Gooey”.
Up next was another Colorado band called The Railsplitters. Featuring a similar traditional sound, the four-piece band played bass, mandolin, guitar, pedal steel guitar, and banjo. Their harmonies, anchored by the incredible Lauren Stovall, echoed throughout the hills above the farm.
The headlining band, World’s Finest, strayed a little more from traditional bluegrass. The five-piece band from Portland, Oregon definitely harnessed more of a west coast sound. Their traditional bluegrass instruments as well as a saxophone often explored into the realms of reggae and ska, picking up the pace as the sun and temperature finally went down.
While the music, food, and drink provided the fun, the most important part of the evening was the emphasis on wilderness protection. Most of the strategy was set on community involvement. The entire back of the venue was comprised of tents that featured different ways to get involved. An auction tent sent benefits to Wilderness Workshop. Booths allowed attendees to learn about and sign petitions that would make the town of Aspen commit to never damming the Castle and Maroon Creeks, which they currently hold the right to do. Another booth allowed people to take pictures with a message regarding the wilderness and provided instructions for how to tag politicians on a social media page. The message I chose was, “Keep Public Lands in Public Hands”, a message I found especially prevalent given the current political climate in Utah and the potential shrinking of Bears Ears National Monument.
The music, message, and overall atmosphere of the evening certainly instilled a desire to be more involved in protecting public lands in anyone attending. There was a magical feeling about the evening, and hopefully this translates to increased participation and awareness.
You can get involved HERE.