For fans of Laramie music, it’s hard to beat WHAT Fest, an annual festival featuring two days of live music from around the region.
This year, it does get better, though, as the festival moved from Riverside and has a new home outside Centennial at a spot called the Huffer Hideout, 2666 Wyoming Highway 130.
The festival is scheduled to kick off at 2:45 p.m. today and continue until 1 a.m. Sunday.
On Saturday, musicians are scheduled to play from 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. on the festival’s three stages. Tickets are $20 per day or $30 for the weekend. Camping is available at the festival site for $10.
Carter Parks, one of the event’s organizers, said the new location about a mile east of Centennial and 30 miles west of Laramie is a beautiful spot with a nearby stream and lots of large cottonwood trees.
“I think it’s going to make for a great festival location,” he said.
Parks said several factors came into play when organizers decided to move the festival. During the last year, the Bear Trap Café and Bar in Riverside changed ownership, and organizers weren’t confident they’d have a home there this summer. Plus, most of the festival’s organizers live in Laramie, as do many of its fans.
“It’s been a natural progression to come closer,” he said.
He said Centennial was a natural new home.
“Centennial has a longstanding tradition of supporting live music and local music, which makes it a pretty obvious place to host a local festival like this,” he said.
Organizers are expecting about 1,500 people to attend during the course of the weekend, though that number could increase this year because of the location’s proximity to Laramie and the Colorado Front Range.
“It gives people a lot more flexibility to come and go and not commit for the entire weekend,” Parks said.
One highlight of this year’s line-up is Young Dubliners, a Los Angeles-based Celtic Rock band that has been playing since 1988.
“(They’ve) got quite a following among certain groups of people,” Parks said. “That’s one of our biggest new bands.”
Laramie and Wyoming favorites in the line-up include Redbush, Elk Tongue, Low Water String Band, Peculiar Patriots, Whiskey Slaps, J Shogren Shanghai’d, The Woodpile, DJ Schell Shock, Jalan Crossland and more.
Parks said WHAT Fest was a family-friendly event, with activities for kids, arts and crafts and yoga sessions scheduled for the weekend. Dogs are not allowed. A shuttle is set to take festival-goers between Laramie, the festival site and Centennial.
WHAT Fest was started about 15 years ago and first took place in Cody. It spent several years at a campground north of Cody before moving to southeast Wyoming, always with a focus on Wyoming music in a range of styles.
“Just like we do every year, it’s a very eclectic music festival, so there’s something for everyone,” Parks said.