Ogden festival continues family-friendly traditions

Sunday , June 01, 2014 - 8:26 AM

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN -- Children toting banjos made with rubber band strings danced on the grass and strummed along with the swarm of musicians at Fort Buenaventura Friday and Saturday nights. The annual late May celebration known as the Ogden Music Festival commenced Friday and Saturday, and will continue into Sunday evening.

The music fest, now in its seventh year, has a time-honored tradition of being a festival the family can enjoy together. Ogden Friends of Acoustic Music, the nonprofit sponsoring the festival, has teamed up with more community partners this year, making the festival bigger than ever before.

“We’re really ramping up our kids’ activities,” said Reba Nissen, who sits on the OFOAM board. “We have the Instrument Petting Zoo, and he brings over 200 instruments. Kids of all ages, even me, can pick up an instrument and play. We also have musicians that have volunteered their time to help a child master a chord.”

Community partners such as Prevent Child Abuse Utah, Nurture the Creative Mind and Ogden/Weber Community Action Partnership joined the festival this year.

Due to the continued support from the community partners, Nissen said children 16 years old and under are always free.

“What we know is, kids do better in all walks of life when music is a part of their lives, so that’s a huge part of our mission.”

Nissen said the music is what the festival is really all about,

“People build a family tradition around it,” Nissen said of the festival. “We have a lot of repeat people who just plan to start their summer here. It’s a celebration of coming together with the community.”

Ogden Music Festival First-timer Cynthia Shelton, of Pleasant View, said she is camping out all weekend to hear “some really good stuff.”

“I’m diggin’ it, I like stuff like this,” she said. “I didn’t expect the contest. I thought they were great, just great to hear. And I’m from Detroit, I’m Motown, baby.”

The Utah State Instrument Championships kicked off the festival Friday night with the open fingerstyle guitar contest. Matt Seabury, who decided to enter the contest on a whim, won first place. Seabury has played guitar for over 40 years, and said he was surprised to take home the prize.

“This is baby steps for me, learning to play in front of people and being more comfortable with it,” he said. “I had no idea that I would end up winning at the festival.”

Like many of the other musicians competing at the festival, Seabury said playing his guitar helps to center him, and gives him peace of mind. Although he seemed like a natural, he’s still learning how to transfer that peace while performing in front of an audience.

“It was nice today. A very receptive crowd, and a very supportive crowd,” he said.

The Ogden Music Festival isn’t just for locals, in fact, many festival-goers drove up from Park City and Salt Lake City to catch Alejandro Escovedo, Friday’s headliner.

Escovedo, who hails from Austin, Texas, shared the stage Friday with Salt Lake City-based country rockers Triggers and Slips. All-female Americana band Della Mae also performed Friday night.

The community also said farewell to Standard-Examiner music writer Linda East Brady. Brady, who was also a DJ on KRCL 90.0 FM, was presented with the Don Baker award.

“[I am] Not worthy to stand alongside other honorees like McQueen, Bad Brad Wheeler, The Kap Brothers and Mike Iverson, but thrilled to stand there with 'em,” Brady said.

Saturday was also filled with bluegrass and traditional American tunes. Bands including Sweetwater Crossing, The Hillbenders and headliner The Steel Wheels got the audience to dance and clap along with the beat.

The festival continues Sunday, with the culmination of the Utah State Instrument Championships at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. with an encore performance by The Hillbenders. For lineup and information, visit www.standard.net.

Contact reporter Raychel Johnson at 801-625-4279 or rajohnson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter @raychelNEWS.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.