In the last 20 years a number of beautiful small- to medium-size cities like Portland, Bend, and Seattle have become go-to destinations for Santa Barbarans looking to escape SoCal housing prices. Ogden, Utah has found itself high on the list. And now there’s even more reason to either move or head out for a picturesque weekend getaway: The Ogden Music Festival.
The three-day summer camping festival is scheduled the weekend after Memorial Day, which this year lands on May 29-31. Now in its eighth year, the diverse bluegrass, folk, and Americana-oriented festival continues to grow both in size and the surprising caliber of artists who favor its friendly vibe. This year’s line-up includes heavyweights like Jerry Douglas, James McCurtry, the Deadly Gentlemen, Shook Twins, Run Boy Run, and Ogden’s own 14-year-old Americana prodigy, Sammy Brue.
With a population of 84,000, Ogden rests comfortably within the embrace of the stately Wasatch Mountains, and the festival is held at the lovely, green Fort Buenaventura. Established by trappers in the mid-1800s, the fort offers canoe rides and hiking trails, and awaits just a mile out of town, making it easy for those who don’t want to camp to stay in one of the many nearby hotels and tour through the historic landmarks and great restaurants.
Live music begins Friday, May 29, at 5 p.m., and continues through Sunday afternoon, with the headlining show at 7 p.m. on Saturday night: Jerry Douglas presents the Earls of Leicester, an authentic tribute to Lester Flat and Earl Scruggs. Along the way, the festival offers a free Kid’s Zone with a “Musical Petting Zoo” with more than 200 instruments, plenty of food and crafts vendors, and a separate Workshop Stage hosting vocal, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and fiddle lessons led by main stage performers.
At $60 a ticket the festival is also a super bargain. As co-director Reba Nissen says, “It’s just so comfortable, relaxed, and fun here, and there’s something for everyone. No matter who you are — young, old, have kids, have no kids, want to have a party, want to have a family experience, everybody can come to this place and have a great time together.”