Growing up in Alaska I’ve heard constant whisperings about the Trapper Creek Bluegrass festival. For me the first time I learned about Trapper Creek was four years ago, my friend Michael who had just gotten back from the festival grabbed my shoulders and shook me while saying “you gotta go, you gotta go.”
It wasn’t until this year, when I finally had the chance to experience Trapper Creek, did I realize that Michael was right. Trapper Creek is an amazing and unique experience, a bastion of good spirits and a revitalizing escape from the monotony of a typical week. I ask myself, “How can I stay away from such a good time? Such a fine time?” When I think forward to the next festival there’s a small voice in the back of my mind that repeats “you gotta go, you gotta go.”
Trapper Creek is five exhausting days of delectable music and camping. There is no limit to the shenanigans that the attendees can and will cook up. The lineup of bands consist of groups from all over Alaska, as well as several talented out of state performers. The genres aren’t limited to just bluegrass, and you can expect there to be a little bit of everything at Trapper Creek, like rock n roll, rockabilly, blues, metal, and even some fine hip-hop. Among those that performed were Anchorage’s The Jephries (a personal favorite), SunDog (if you have time read Joe Ransdell-Greens blog about SunDog on KSUA), Cunto from Austin, Texas, Ayla Ray which consists of several Alaskan transplants now residing in Portland, and the man on whose property Trapper Creek takes place, Boot.
The festival grounds lie at the end of a long dirt, pothole riddled road, and consist of several acres enclosed by a dirt road loop. All around the loop are areas for camping. When the early birds arrived on Thursday camps were sparsely scattered around the grounds. Aside from the music that played on the backstage it was quiet. But it didn’t stay quiet.
Soon more cars started to file in around the festival grounds, finding spots around the loop to claim. What were just small campsites evolved into mini villages, and soon almost the entire loop had tents around its entire perimeter. Overnight Trapper Creek had turned into one of the biggest parties I’ve ever seen.
And it may have been an exhausting weekend, but at no point did this exhaustion feel like stress. It took no effort to enjoy myself, and not even the heavy rain that beat the ground into slippery mud the whole weekend mattered. Trapper Creek has the unique ability to turn “dreary” weather into something else entirely; no doubt it was the most fun I’ve ever had during any weekend of rain. In fact the rain is something we all took advantage of. During the downpour the enigmatic Phil jumped into a swamp and spent an evening without his shirt on with mud smeared all across his body, transforming his form and temperament into the mischievous cryptid named “Goblin Phil.”
Trapper Creek is one of those places where everyone is your friend and you are everyone’s friend, even if you’ve never met someone, even if they’ve never seen you in their life. There’s this genuine feeling of good will towards each other. As a solid example, this year there was a wedding in the middle of a field. Everyone was invited, costumes were encouraged, and clothing, as the invitation read, was optional. Love is in the air. It’s a place to be silly, and it’s a place to be free. But most importantly it’s a place to be kind, to take care of each other and enjoy what Trapper Creek has to offer, which is a lot. Do yourself a favor, if you think you’re bold. Go to Trapper Creek. Visit the spanking booth. Eat some biscuits and gravy from the coffee truck. Lose yourself in the music and the unbridled Alaskan atmosphere. Puke and rally. You gotta go, you gotta go.
Big shoutout to everyone who helps makes Trapper Creek happen you all are amazing.
-garrett monroe, ksua program director