The Antelope Butte Foundation started planning the day after Gov. Mark Gordon announced outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people would be permitted in the most recent change to loosen state restrictions set to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Bighorn Mountains Music and Brew Festival as well as the Summer Festival at Antelope Butte near Shell normally draw crowds of more than 600, so the nonprofit’s staff and board began to look at other options, development coordinator Nikki Ulug said. The result is the Big Horn REA Summer Concert Series set for June 27, July 18, Aug. 8 and Aug. 29 featuring local and touring musical acts to be announced.
“We just basically spent like two days hashing out a solid plan,” Ulug said, “something we thought was feasible as well as safe and coming up with like protocols for these different things.”
The series kick-off on June 27 features free craft beer pours from local breweries and yoga. Attendees may camp the night of each event, which also offer scenic chairlift rides as well as food from Bino’s food truck and Montucky beer.
It wouldn’t have been financially feasible to host Antelope Butte’s usual summer festivals with only 250 people, Ulug said. Much of the planning for the new concert series fell into place quickly with bands and vendors rebooked from the canceled events, through the upcoming concerts require extra organization for social distancing and other precautions.
The new concert series combines elements of both canceled festivals and is a way to offer outdoor entertainment and support local musicians, Ulug said.
“I also think a lot of local artists, they’re looking for places to play and opportunities, because so many things are getting canceled,” she said.
Precautions this year include attendees to maintain six feet of distance at all times between individuals or household groups and frequent disinfecting, according to the event website. Tickets as well as camping spots for groups up to six must be reserved ahead of time, and camp sites are to be set at least 20 feet apart.
The Antelope Butte Foundation bought the abandoned ski area in 2016 for year-round recreation, training and education and opened in 2018, according to an Antelope Butte Foundation press release. The foundation is raising funds in a capital campaign to complete the lodge and reach full operations.
The summer gatherings may be different this year with fewer people and social distancing.
“It will definitely be more intimate and low key,” Ulug said. “But that also sounds really nice to be on a mountain at sunset listening to music.”
Follow arts & culture reporter Elysia Conner on twitter @erconner
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