CASPER — Growing up in northwestern New Jersey near Waterloo Village, Wyoming transplant Laurie Rigg remembers hearing about the Beartrap Summer Festival from fellow music lovers. It’s been a bucket list item for her ever since.
Saturday, Rigg was at the festival of her childhood dreams, crossing it off the list with a huge smile.
“I’m loving every minute of it,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “There’s a lot of live music lovers here, and that’s so hard to find these days. Most of the things have closed up or gone very, very upscale and restricted so your average person can’t go. Like Coachella, right? It’s thousands of dollars.”
It’s not just the music that’s great, she added.
“There are really nice people. You can bring your dog, even, and you can carry your drink around,” she said. “You have some degree of freedom, but nobody’s taking advantage of it in a bad way. This is a really pleasant experience.”
Riggs isn’t the only one finding out about the Beartrap Festival on Casper Mountain.
From the East Coast to West, and Nebraska in between, Beartrap regulars have made many friends from other states who have caught onto this Casper classic. They catch up with each other every summer at what they believe is one of the nation’s coolest musical festivals on a mountain.
Casper Connection To The World
The number of people coming to the festival from other states is one of the things that surprised Thuvan Ahrens, who was among a small army of vendors from Casper plying handcrafted wares. Ahrens was selling 3D-printed dragons and other critters that can be moved around and posed in a variety of interesting ways, along with cute butterfly wings for children and tie-dyed overalls for adults.
“Last year, I had so many people who were from California,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “And then people from Nebraska and, like, all over. So, it was kind of neat to see all those people. And I was like, so why did you pick this festival?”
Most told her it’s the festival vibes they love the most, along with the music.
Ahrens gets that. Good vibes are one of the reasons she likes the festival herself.
“I love the mountain,” she said. “And even though I live in Casper, I feel like I don’t always get up to the mountains. So, this is just a reason to come into balance, just hear the music and, you know, be around people and the energy — the good festival vibes. It’s just a fun time.”
Several of the people she met last year from California and Nebraska have been back this year, Ahrens added, and some have returned to her booth to say, “Hi.”
“This one gal from California came back this year, and she’s like, ‘You remember me, don’t you?” And I was like, ‘Yeah!’ They fly in from California just for the festival because it’s just so good.”
Peaceful Easy Feeling With Bubbles
Beartrap regular Sheryl McLaughlin, who has been coming to the festival the last 25 years with her beadwork, can relate.
It’s all the friends she’s made drawing her back to the festival year after year, even though these days she really prefers an indoor show where she doesn’t have to battle with weather.
“This is pretty cold for my bones,” she said. “But I do it for the atmosphere, and I have lots of repeat customers. They look for me here.”
The song “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” was playing as McLaughlin was speaking. Bubbles blown by children and adults alike were floating by, hovering on the breeze with a rainbow of color captured in fragile walls.
Any second they would pop, but not to worry. There were more where those came from. Little bottles of free bubbles were being freely pushed at the entrance of the Beartrap Summer Festival by Rocky Mountain Behavioral Health’s Brittany Blauvelt.
“You need some bubbles,” she told Cowboy State Daily cheerily, then, in a mock-warning tone, added, “They’ll make you happy.”
With those kind of marketing ploys, Blauvelt had no trouble passing out the free bubbles to people of every age.
A peaceful easy feeling was on everyone’s agenda Saturday and Sunday no matter their age.
Bubbles on the wind? That’s just what the smile doctor ordered.
One Big Huge Tailgater
Pop-up tents dotted the landscape in front of the stage, where an audience of music lovers set up a motley array of folding chairs. It looked like one giant tailgating party, but without the big trucks.
From the setups, it was clear many of the pop-up parties were experienced Beartrap Festivalgoers. They had folding tables to hold snacks and wagons to cart their stuff back out once the festival was over, along with shade tents, some of which could shelter a large crowd.
Dog-friendliness, meanwhile, was everywhere in evidence. That was a big draw for Brittany Batchelor, at the event for the first time as a vendor,with tons of homemade dog treats.
“I was excited about this because I knew it was going to be a lot of dogs,” she told Cowboy State Daily, a huge grin stretching wide across her face. “My favorite part of the dog treats is getting to pet all the puppies. So, I’m like, I know this is the right place for it.”
Batchelor was getting mobbed by pet owners off and on throughout the festival — much to her delight and theirs.
She was handing out free treats freely, and petting all the puppies one could imagine.
Up Close With The Artists
Batchelor wasn’t the only one with crowds of admirers. Artists at the festival had their share of fans surrounding them to buy CDs and get autographs on everything from hats to ukeleles.
Wendy Woo, a singer songwriter from Colorado, for example, found herself signing hats for Sam Mann and Carson Carey, both 9 and determined to get every signature from every artist at the festival.
Right behind them was Kurt Gilbert with a ukulele, looking for much the same — though maybe not from every artist.
Gilbert plans to place his signed ukulele in a shadow box at his store, Hill Music, along with other similar musical instruments that have signatures collected from previous Beartrap Summer Festivals.
Gilbert has been bringing Hill Music instruments to the Beartrap Summer Festival the past five or six years.
“It was just an experiment to see if it attracted people to our store later on,” he said. “It does, and we’ve been coming up ever since. We have a pretty good following up here as well.”
Woo told Cowboy State Daily she loves coming to the festival just as much as the festivalgoers.
“I’ve been here before, and to be able to come up here to this mountain, it’s so beautiful and everyone in town is so kind,” she said. “And the people here just love music.”
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.