There's going to be plenty of sore ankles this week.
Pulling down the tailgate and setting up camp‚ the curious and carefree descended on the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival. Celebrating its 22nd year‚ the three-day experience tantalized the senses amid joyous laughs‚ meticulous musicians‚ and unparalleled physical beauty within the heart of the Tetons.
Friends‚ long lost and newly acquainted‚ reveled in the late Friday afternoon sunshine filtering through the trees and radiating down the slopes of the resort. Mandolins‚ banjos and acoustic guitars drifted from nearby tents as lawn chairs and blankets were strewn in front of the stage for the Darrell Scott Band. With their unique brand of honky-tonk‚ the group was later joined by banjo extraordinaire Tony Trischka and John Cowan.
Wandering through the venue‚ local brews and snacks dotted the hillside. A theme of environmental awareness underlined the event as seen by the Protect Our Winters (POW) booth promoting local initiatives and nature friendly containers provided by the resort. According to festival brochure‚ 48 percent of the waste stream from the event last summer was diverted and recycled or composted.
The sun soon fell behind the timberline‚ and ultimately the Big Hole Mountains to the west. Dancing shoes and freewill came out of the woodwork for Americana gurus Railroad Earth. Taking the listener down the rabbit hole through melodic folk and bluegrass numbers‚ the ensemble conjured the precious ambiance with a cacophony of sound as countless stars poked out into the clear‚ crisp sky.
Howls and rebel yells soon ricocheted through the dark forest. Many sauntered up to the Trap Bar for a sweaty nightcap set by Head for the Hills‚ while others decided to make their own party inside their humble abodes. Interaction between neighbors resulted in spontaneous jam sessions lasting until the wee hours of the morning; beverages hoisted high and in unison over the comradery continually found within these woods.
Children with painted faces played tetherball and parents grilled out amid relaxed conversation during the early afternoon on Saturday. Riding the chairlift up the mountain‚ one could hear the well-tuned picking of the Steep Canyon Rangers from the stage‚ their tone echoing off ancient rocks and faraway potato fields. Dozens stood in awe of the Teton Range with another day of pristine weather adorning the area. Ending their performance with the traditional selection "Don't Ease Me In"‚ the Rangers convey a sense of innocence unique to the genre.
Darkness engulfed the valley for Yonder Mountain String Band. Led by the screams of lead singer/mandolinist Jeff Austin‚ the princes of bluegrass charged up the mountainside‚ tearing through an enormous catalogue of material‚ taking the audience hostage for two never-ending sets that bled late into the night.
Raindrops soaked the ground and made for a muddy trek to the stage on Sunday. Though wet and dirty‚ attendees never faltered as they splashed and frolicked in small streams and deep puddles.
Strolling onstage‚ the David Grisman Quintet capped off the festivities with a feast of melodies ranging from all eras of the legendary performer's career. His calming paternal presence seemed to keep the raindrops at bay. Raucous cheers were triggered each time he plucked his mandolin; a smile stretching across his Khris Kringle appearance.
Tapping into his work with the late Jerry Garcia‚ the timeless "Grateful Dawg" had bodies swaying in the breeze and hands pointed skyward. "Dawg's Waltz" would turn out to be the conclusion of the weekend‚ as dark clouds overtook the stage. Patrons huddled under tents and ran to their cars as a torrential downpour‚ accompanied by lighting strikes within the vicinity‚ signaled a premature end to the event.
The Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival is a mesmerizing atmosphere to inhabit for a weekend. A culmination of the finest bluegrass talent and picturesque landscape this country has to offer‚ the occasion satisfies any and all year after year.

See ya'll at #23.
Visit the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival