CHUGWATER – For more than 14 hours on Friday and Saturday, music could be heard all over Chugwater coming from the municipal park, featuring a wide range of entertainment.
The first ever Chugwater Music Festival featured many local and regional bands from Douglas to Cheyenne, to as far away as Fort Collins, Colorado.
“Each day featured seven hours’ worth of entertainment each day,” event organizer Mer Nilson said.
Including all the music, vendors lined the park, looking to sell their goods.
A new act was making their way to the stage every hour, beginning at 10 a.m. each day.
Nilson, one of the owners of Chugwater’s Stampede Saloon and Eatery, said area performers wanted a place to “pick and grin.”
“We opened in 2017 and musicians around wished they had a place to go and get together and pick and grin,” Nilson said.
He quickly invited them over.
“There is some extremely good talent in the region, and sometimes it’s difficult for them to get in front of the public,” Nilson said. “Years ago, every community had bars which had live music. It’s just not that way anymore.”
As a result of the success of those jam sessions, Nilson decided it was time to try a festival.
However, COVID-19 got in the way of those plans.
The Chugwater Music Festival was originally scheduled to place in July of 2020, but it never happened.
“We had it planned for last year, but COVID knocked it out,” Nilson said. “We are just trying to get something going where maybe out of the whole bunch, maybe one can make it out of the whole bunch.”
Finally, in July 16-17, 2021, the event finally took place.
Steve Gilmore & High Plains Tradition and Ain’t From Here were the featured bands, while the likes of Rusty Chaps, Brad Matthews, Barney and Nancy Meisse, Kevin Ramler and Bonamo and the Montey Crummer Band showcased their talents on Friday, while John Voight and Less Noan Band, Jim Waits, Brian David Collins, High Plains Lowlifes and Larry Phillips played on Saturday.
His main goal for the event was to get the artiests in front of people and maybe help them get noticed.
“That would make this all worthwhile,” Nilson said.
The weekend was capped off by a song writing contest about Steamboat – the Wyoming bucking horse. The top prize was $500 and a free recording session, which drew a lot of interest from aspiring musicians.