We are less than a week away from one of my favorite festivals of the season, the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival, at the beautiful Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, WY. My bags are packed with equal part summer dresses and rain gear, my hammock sits by my back door ready to be strung through the trees, and my excitement grows with each day as we get nearer. This is the 29th year of the Grand Targhee Bluegrass festival, and my 4th year visiting the mountain town to dance to some great music while drinking my fair share of Bitch Creek beer. There is something so special about the atmosphere at Targhee, a place where you can instantly feel “at home”…Maybe it’s the fact that everything you need is just…there. The music, the people, the lack of cell service…Hell, you can even get an entirely new wardrobe (I know this because one year a friend forgot ALL of his clothes…Fear not, Targhee outfitted him for he weekend)…Truly, it is a place for young and old, the circle and the square.
So as I pack up my camping gear for another great festival, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share just a few of the things you CANNOT MISS at Targhee Bluegrass Festival.
#1- Late Night Shows.
So after you’ve spent the entire day dancing under the sun, sipping local beers & admiring the blanket of trees surrounding you…There’s really no better way to cap off the night than to continue the fun at the Trap Bar. The Trap Bar is situated right outside of the main entrance to the festival, and is open throughout the day to serve lunch & dinner, delicious local beers on tap, as well as libations from their full bar. (Note: sitting on the patio of the Trap Bar during the day is a great way to catch a breath in between bands…They also have a cornhole set to challenge your friends!)
Each full day of music at Targhee Bluegrass is complimented by a great after-party that will surely have you dancing until the wee hours of the night. Check out the schedule for 2016 Grand Targhee Bluegrass late night shows:
Friday: Screen Door Porch (country roots/rock from Wyoming), doors @ 10, show @ 10:30
Saturday: Kitchen Dwellers (super fun groovy grass from our neighbors in Bozeman!!), doors @ 10, show @ 10:30
Sunday: The Hillbenders (Bluegrass / AcoustiCana from Springfield, MO), doors at 6:30, show @ 7
#2- Refillable Beer Mug.
One of the brilliant new trends at festivals these days is the incorporation of refillable beer mugs. I like to think of it as the most environmentally friendly/useful concert souvenir. Targhee Fest & Targhee Bluegrass Festival have done this for years and if you plan on having a few from their selection of local micro brews on tap, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a mug. Now, I know what you’re thinking “I don’t need a cup.” YOU ARE WRONG. You do need one. And once you see all of the smiling faces— mug in hand, you will feel very left out. Just buy the damn mug.
You can fill the mug from any of their beer vendors on-site, or even swing by the Trap Bar to choose from one of their beers on tap( you can also fill your mug with a Trap Bar bloody mary for a few dollars extra!!)
Okay so here is a confession: I do not ski/snowboard, etc. and I have never been on a skilift. **cue the laughter and finger-pointing**
So, when presented with my first opportunity to ride the lift during a hot August day, I couldn’t be more elated. For $15 you can purchase a day pass that allows you unlimited rides up and down the mountain for the entire day. When you get to the very top, there are a few overlook decks with breathtaking views of the Teton Mountains.
You’ll also probably see a few patches of snow, which I was happy to find out that a snowball to the face is far more enjoyable in August than February. There’s also a wildlife center at the top, where you can learn to identify some of the animals surrounding you.
Side note: pack some snacks, fill up your beer mug, and head to the top. It’s a great way to take a few minutes of peace that 10k feet in the air offers.
#4- Shade naps.
One thing I love about the environment at Targhee is the amount of shade that surrounds you….(if you have ever been to a shadeless 3-day festival, you will understand why this is so important)…Remember, this is a 3-day bluegrass marathon…Not a sprint. Take it easy.
Many people have never been to this kind of elevation before (base elevation is 7,048 ft.) and when your dancin’, hootin’ and hollerin’…It can take a lot out of you. The Grand Targhee Resort is full of great shade provided by the plethora of trees…Grab your hammock & relax.
(I live in Missoula, I work for local radio, I love bluegrass. I couldn’t leave the Smokies out.)
Missoula is a melting pot for the arts and has been home to some amazing music (particularly, as of late!)…One band that has completely hit it out of the park over these few year is the Lil Smokies. I remember first seeing them play in a parking lot during first Friday, 6 years ago. It was pretty amazing. Like really, really amazing.
I remember watching half the crowd dancing their asses off, and then other half just standing there- completely awestruck by their performance. Since then they have soared high and above every mountain they’ve come across…each time perfecting their art, musicianship, and stage presence…It has been so cool to watch these guys continue down the wild and wonderful path of music, totally killing it every step of the way. They’ve won the Northwest String Summit band Competition, the Telluride Bluegrass band competition, and are now headlining Missoula’s biggest music festival at the end of this month (River City Roots Festival)… So it’s no surprise that Missoula’s extraordinary 5-piece bluegrass group will be gracing the Targhee mainstage. See ya in Wyoming, boys!