Members of 7 Nations jam out for the crowd at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival on Saturday. The festival celebrated 20 years by bringing back fan favorites along with new acts. (GAZETTE PHOTO/Jack Holt)
KEMMERER — Fans of the Oyster Ridge Musical Festival (ORMF) came out to celebrate the event’s twentieth anniversary over the past weekend. On top of out-of-town festival-goers were many of the Kemmerer High School alum returning for their class reunions.
The annual event kicked off with the national anthem and the raising of the ORMF flag. The motto for the weekend was “bringing back favorites and then some,” and there were plenty of returning acts interlaced with new musicians throughout the weekend.
Festival vendors opened up at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 25, and purchasers of the $5 wristband were able to purchase beer tickets for the five microbrews on tap for the weekend.
West Virginian duo Robin Kessinger and Robert Shafer started off the wave of musicians that played throughout the weekend and started off each day’s musical sets.
Following Kessinger and Shafer on Friday was American Idol top 100-placer and Americana singer David Luning. Rebecca Frazier and Hit and Run, of Nashville, followed and returning Chicago group Mike Mangione and the Union got people out of their chairs and onto their feet.
Fruition and the Will Evans Band ended the evening Friday with the latter bringing the night’s festivities to a close shortly after midnight.
Saturday kicked off with the “almost world famous” band scramble where musicians and groups were charged with learning a song on the spot, practicing it for an hour and performing it for the crowd.
One-Man Act regaled the crowd with his vocals leading the crowd to cry out for an encore to which he happily obliged, singing one more song without instrument. Returning from Friday night were both Mike Mangione and the Union and the Will Evans Band, again, bringing people to their feet to dance.
The Alternate Routes came next and following was Red Wanting Blue. The crowd enjoyed Red Wanting Blue so much they were asked back on-stage for an encore. Sadly, they weren’t able to perform an encore as it was going on 11 p.m. and the headliner band for the evening, 7 Nations, had yet to perform.
Once 7 Nations was set up, however, the band kicked off their set with a fiddle/guitar combination before the rest of the band came out. By that time the crowd was up and dancing. The band finished their set a little bit after midnight and while the music may have ended, the festivities did not as the local bars remained open all night.
According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office there wasn’t an incident and the festivalgoers who stayed out all night kept things low-key.
Sunday opened up with the State Flat Pick and Finger Pick Competition with a total of eight contestants registering. Austin Taylor of Sandy, Utah, took first place with Mason Werbelow of Greybull and Scott Boyd of Centerville, Utah taking second and third, respectively in the flat pick division.
For fingerpicking, Austin Weyand of Brigham City, Utah, placed first, with Mason Werbelow of Greybull again taking second, and Scott Boyd of Centerville, Utah, again taking third.
Besides being awarded prizes, all placing contestants received an entry into the Walnut Valley International Finger Style Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas, in September.
Music performances started with Kessinger and Shafer and were followed by Screen Door Porch and the Coffis Brothers.
With the performances coming to an end, the three-day festival also came to an end and everyone’s attention turned to next year’s festival. During the weekend, the 20th anniversary quilt was auctioned off to Mandy and Brett Dovey.
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