SHERIDAN — This weekend is an economic event for Sheridan’s North Main Street. Thousands of out-of-towners are visiting for the Big Horn Country USA music festival at the Trails End Concert Park.
While some have chosen traditional guest lodging in one of Sheridan’s hotels or motels, a few hundred will stay at a three-day camp community.
The event is a first for Sheridan on several levels. The festival is drawing one of the biggest out-of-town crowds the community has seen, and it brings a welcome breath of life to an area of Sheridan that has long been recognized as being in need of economic stimulus.
While other summertime events like the Sheridan WYO Rodeo have been known to draw a crowd of locals, this new country music festival boasts ticket sales largely sourced outside Sheridan’s zip code.
That means that instead of kicking up local funds for redistribution, Big Horn Country USA is bringing outside money into the community.
For starters, visitors need a place to stay. As of Friday morning, hotels and motels on North Main — and throughout Sheridan — were booked either completely full or near capacity. Festival designers foresaw the potential problem of accommodating so many guests in the community at once, and thus set up the Wildflower Campground near the Wrench Ranch Subdivision.
As of Thursday morning, roughly 250 camp spots had been purchased by music fans intending to tow in campers or set up tents. The layout of the campground was modified from what was originally advertised online after encountering last-minute administrative red tape, but camp officials were confident the hundreds of visitors would have a place to park.
For visitors at the Wildflower Campground, the stay is just as big of a deal as the performances they came to see. Marcella and Rod Mathill, from Casper, were glad to have a reason to drag out their home away from home.
“We’ve waited 20 years to buy a camper,” Marcella Mathill explained. “We’ve raised our children, and now they’re grown and gone, so mom and dad are playing. We got our camper last year and now we’re finding anything and everything to do with our camper.”
At another site, Ryan Bogers, from Billings, Montana, agreed the concept of “roughing it” adds a new dimension to the experience.
“I could care less about the concert. I’m here to drink beer and have fun,” he said.
Lindsey Brendgord, at the same site, but set up in a tent beside Bogers’ camper, disagreed.
“I’m definitely looking forward to all the big names,” she said.
As of this morning, attendance at the festival was estimated to be between 4,000 and 4,500 people.