So often, the media and newspapers will attend a music festival and focus on the bands. But it’s not always the story of the bands that is the most interesting.
Ogden Friends of Acoustic Music held the 9th annual Ogden Music Festival, which featured acoustic artists known across the nation. But it’s the story of the festival-goer that brings in the spirit of the festival as a whole.
Nicholas Mcgrody grew up listening to the acoustic styles of blues and comes out to the festivals to connect with those who enjoy the same style of music.
“Bluegrass and folk and any style that revolves around that is something that no matter where you are coming from, anybody can get down to it” he said.
One theme that seemed to fill the souls of all the festival goers was the music. The music wasn’t just about what was happening on the stage either, but it continued through the night, especially for those camping.
“(When) everyone stopped jammin’ on the stage, there was, in the camps, everyone coming in, and there were new people every single time,” said Mcgrody. “Random people who never jammed together, from different states, from all over, started playing bluegrass, started playing folk. Like I said, that style never dies no matter where you’re coming from.”
This sense of togetherness was most evident in a group of 55+ festival goers from Salt Lake City. Mike Dege, first time festival goer, Steve Bassett, six-time festival goer, and Sandy Kerman, four-time festival goer, were hanging out in the campgrounds. Each with a ukulele in hand, they were simply enjoying each other’s company.
“I’m sitting here playing a song,” Bassett said. “And Mike comes by and says ‘hey, let me grab my ukelele.’ And Sandy comes by and says, ‘hold on I’ll grab my ukelele.’ And we sit down work through a couple songs and have a good time.”
They then started playing The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” The music had united them.
Experiences likes this that have kept Joan Ahlf coming back year after year. Out of the 9 festivals, she’s only missed one. “I’ve been to every single year since the very first, and we had a group in the rain under the pavilion,” she said. “I did miss one year because I made a trip plan with my two boys and didn’t realize it was during the festival.”
Families seemed to be a second theme that brought people out to the festival. Lexie Oenes and her family were found cooling off in the Weber River by squirting each other with water guns. She interviewed with water pistol in hand and explained how great the festival has been to just get away and spend time with the family.
Alex Rowe, one of the musicians who would be performing, attended the festival for more than just the opportunity to get up on stage with Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band.
“The major reason I decided to come out was because I have a couple friends who are in charge of volunteering,” he said. “They said that it was a really great opportunity and that it was a great festival for kids, so I got my few kids with me who’ve been running around and hanging out at the instrument petting zoo and all the arts and crafts. There’s so much here for the kiddos.”
As I continued walking around talking to festival goers, there were many people I interviewed who shared similar thoughts about the festival. It seemed that the music, the family atmosphere and the togetherness united everyone across different plains of life for a one weekend get away.
For those interested, OFOAM will be hosting the Ogden Valley Roots and Blues Festival from August 26-28 at Weber County’s North Fork Park. More information can be found at OFOAM.org.