By Molly McCowan
Carl Gustafson is passionate about music. When he decided to launch a yearly, state-of-the-art music festival, his partners and financial backers told him he could host it anywhere in the world. When he decided to bring the festivities to his hometown – Laramie, Wyoming – they were a bit surprised, to say the least.
“My backers were shocked when I picked the least populated state in the Union [to host this festival],” Gustafson says.
Gustafson admits he had an ulterior motive to launching the Snowy Range Music Festival in Laramie. He wanted to give back, both culturally and financially, to the town that raised him. The festival not only brings high quality musical acts to Laramie every year during Labor Day weekend (this year on September 2-4), it also bolsters the city’s economy – in a big way.
“I’m most proud of the caliber of entertainers we hire. Top to bottom, it’s as good as any festival on the planet… We have a wide variety of the finest music for [residents’] education and inspiration, and it will bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to this town this year and millions in the future,” he says.
Now in its third year, Snowy Range has already enjoyed great success, drawing huge crowds from nearby states (Hello, Colorado!) and around the world.
“It does my heart good to watch the people of Colorado – our beloved neighbors and sometimes rivals – flooding into Laramie to share this with us. Colorado is a fabulous state of magnificent scenes and atmospheres. I love it,” Gustafson says.
Why do people come from far and wide to attend Snowy Range? Successful music selections have been instrumental in the fest’s prosperity. Previous headliners have included Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Los Lobos, Johnny Lang, Susan Tedeschi, and many other grade-A performers.
And this year’s festival brings out the biggest players yet. The 2011 headliners are whoppers in the music industry: Michael Franti & Spearhead, the Neville Brothers and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic will provide a well-rounded offering for each of the festival’s three nights.
Snowy Range will also showcase over 40 bands from across the board of roots music genres, including zydeco, funk, folk, blues, reggae, New Orleans brass, Americana, big band and swing.
The festival, which takes place on the Albany County Fairgrounds just south of Laramie proper, also boasts a family-friendly atmosphere. Children under 12 can attend the festivities for free, and college students enjoy discounted tickets as well.
All in all, the people behind Snowy Range are dedicated to creating a once in a lifetime event.
“The goal here is to be the biggest, highest quality festival in the Rockies,” Gustafson says. “The synergy that this festival creates among music lovers is an exhilaration that can’t be defined… You can’t leave the Snowy Range Music Festival with an empty soul.”
Tickets for the Snowy Range Music Festival (September 2-4) can be purchased separately or as a package deal for all three days. A three-day event pass is $95. One-day passes range from $30-$50. Tickets can be purchased online at snowyrangemusicfestival.com. Camping is available for tents, RVs and campers – check the website for rates and to purchase camping passes.