by Mikaela Antonelli
Wyoming’s biggest party is back at it again this year as WHAT Fest celebrates its 11th year at the end of this month. For those who aren’t familiar, WHAT Fest is a non-profit festival that takes place on July 25 and 26 at the Beartrap Bar & Cafe in Riverside, WY. WHAT Fest is the brainchild of Marko Ruble. The festival started back in Cody, WY, with six bands and 50 people. “It started as a platform for artists who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to play festival-sized crowds,” Ruble said. Since the move to Riverside, WY, three years ago, and with the help of Adam Bender, Marko’s partner and Patti Fiasco’s front house engineer, the festival has exploded into something that they never dreamed.
“WHAT Fest is a user-generated festival,” said Ruble. “Everyone brings their own part to it.” The festival’s motto is “WHAT Fest: it is what you make of it,” which rings true through each year of the festival.
This year, the festival will cost five dollars per day. However, it still remains a non-profit festival and all proceeds will go to paying the bands and covering general costs of putting together the festival.
Although this festival is held in Wyoming, there is a strong Fort Collins presence. Many Fort Collins bands will be attending, such as Mamma Lenny and the Remedy and Mosey West. The festival is also sponsored by various Fort Collins businesses including The Mishawaka Amphitheatre and KRFC.
Ruble and Bender try their best to “take the chaos out of festivals” as they put it. If you are in Fort Collins and are looking to make the trek to Wyoming for this event, free camping is available and encouraged. You can even leave your car at the campsite for the weekend and take the shuttle into the festival venue. They also have two alternating stages. Each stage will play for 45 minutes so that you still have time to make it to the other stage to see the next band, eliminating the stress and running around at a typical festival.
“It is the reunion up on the hill that keeps getting bigger,” said Ruble. Come join Ruble and Bender at the end of this month for a weekend you will never forget.
For more information, visit the festivals website at www.whatfest.com.