◆ Music will play Friday and Saturday evenings until 10 p.m.
Afton’s first Annual Back Country Jam is happening this weekend, June 17 and 18 at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. Featuring big emerging country artists like Chayce Beckham and Chancey Williams, this music festival offers two days of quality music accompanied by activities for families on the grounds.
As Wyoming’s newest country music festival, the event offers “Afton’s mountain landscape and endless Wyoming sky as the backdrop,” states backcountryjam.com. “Music-lovers will indulge in great music, hand-selected shop vendors and incredible food and drink.”
“The best way to do tourism is music because people travel for music,” shared Kaitie Vigna, Event Creator and Organizer. “I thought it was a really good way to get businesses involved and kind of bring people to visit our town.”
Music will begin in the arena at 4 p.m. on Friday and continue into the night until 10. Saturday morning, music starts again at 11 a.m. and will play throughout the day until 10 that evening. Seats are available on the floor and in the grandstands. Vendors from all over the west will be on site just for shopping. Seven food trucks will offer food and beverages, including beer, for festival patrons.
“This will be very American,” clarified Vigna. “We will start with the National Anthem before the headliner takes the stage. I want people who aren’t from here to walk into this event and feel like this is Wyoming. We have a 250-foot banner made with images of the American Flag and Wyoming Flag alternating all the way around the arena. It’s going to be a cool vibe in there.”
The grounds will offer Jumpoline and the National Guard Obstacle Course. There will be cornhole and volleyball nets set up. Families and youth are encouraged and welcome to attend.
With beer sales approved, organizers want to make sure patrons do not drink and drive, so there are tent and RV sites set aside in the parking areas so that everyone has a good time and stays safe.
“We have three guys coming from Wyoming that are all absolutely incredible,” smiled Vigna. “Chancey Williams and Ryan Charles – He was on American Song Contest, and he actually represented Wyoming, so that was really cool to get him. And we have Kellen Smith. He’s a rancher and he runs beef cattle. His voice is phenomenal. Those three I am really proud to have here, because they represent Wyoming artists. The next two that I think are really incredible – I don’t know how we pulled this off – is Chayce Beckham. He won American Idol last year and he has three songs that are really big on the radio right now, and Tanner Usrey. He sings in Yellowstone a lot and his voice is…I mean you get chills listening to him.”
Female artists are coming as well. “We have Gracie York from Texas,” said Vigna. “I have never heard a voice like hers. Her voice really stands out among female artists. And we have Ellie Mae, who is actually from Idaho Falls. So that was cool. She’s almost a local.
Vigna, who moved to Star Valley in the last two years, has spearheaded creation of the festival with help from Abby Humes, and with support from local businesses and sponsors. Her idea was born in December 2021 and has grown through Vigna’s determined efforts to contact artists and managers through Instagram, email and phone calls, and work with local organizations to build the capitol to fund the festival.
Vigna is extremely grateful for the community support she has experienced throughout the process of organizing the event. Silverstar, Engel Volkers and Yeti are some businesses that have gone beyond their sponsorship contracts to help make the festival happen.
“I want everybody to experience Wyoming,” said Vigna. “In the future, I want to have local honeys and jams and meats, so that when people some here, they think, ‘OK. This is Wyoming. This is what they do with all the land.’ I want to just capitalize on the Wyoming experience. Next year, I would love to incorporate local artists. We are already working to have contracts signed with bigger artists. Hopefully, we will grow to have bigger and bigger names, but always keep some Wyoming artists in the mix.”
Vigna recognizes that a music festival is a different kind of community experience for Star Valley. “This might be out of people’s comfort zone, but this is kid-friendly, and this is all about community and about really capitalizing on Wyoming and how lucky we are to be here and how beautiful it all is. There are music festivals everywhere, but I know that none of them are anywhere like this where it’s so beautiful – especially in a community that supports the way we do. I think that’s the biggest thing. Here, we are building all the small businesses that are vendors or that are participating. This is helping build our community, but it’s also helping build our relationships so that they are stronger in a relationship sense and in a financial sense.”
Tickets to the Back County Jam are available at https://backcountryjam.com or at the door.