Utopia Fest Adds a Sweet Party This Weekend
Intimate gathering evidences a returns to roots
By Kevin Curtin,
12:45PM, Wed. Mar. 27, 2019
Utopia Fest gets back to basics this weekend, hosting a two-day party at its original location: the Four Sisters Ranch in Utopia, Texas. After a turbulent fall for the experiential music gathering, an intimate half-year homecoming looks to reboot the Utopia mojo.
Festival founder Travis Sutherland says he began theorizing the Sweet Party long before his short-lived partnership with Down in the Oaks Entertainment caused the main festival to relocate from one Burnet County ranch to another weeks before its early-November run. During an ensuing process of fundraising and re-envisioning the future of Utopia, Sutherland decided to invite 500 fans and friends back home to the site where they gathered for the first nine years.
“The goal is to rekindle the original magic and spirit that was created out there in that awesome space with a limited amount of people that, for the most part, know each other,” he explains of the party, which runs Friday and Saturday.
Through only word-of-mouth and email list announcements – no paid advertising – Sutherland and company have moved the lion’s share of the Sweet Party’s 500 tickets. Remaining passes are available here.
The shindig features two dozen acts, including Kelsey Wilson’s new project Sir Woman, recent Grammy nominees Wood & Wire, rising Pittsburgh soulsters the Commonheart, and Utopia favorites the Deer. The event also places increased focus on Tank Goodtimes, the unamplified late-night stage put on by Cody Johnston and Team Goodtimes that’s been consistently magical both at Utopia and Old Settler’s Fest, where it’s called Camp Shhhtimes. Nearly every artist playing the fest will make an after-midnight appearance on the Goodtimes stage.
Meanwhile, the full-on Utopia Fest is scheduled to return to Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet November 14-16 for its 11th annual run. Among the readjustments happening after a year of attempting to grow uncharacteristically fast: the BYOB policy is back.
Sutherland says the Sweet Party is less about fundraising for the larger fall event and more about keeping music planted on his family’s ranch while giving the Utopia fanbase another gathering they can look forward to. In fact, he’s considering making it a reoccurring spring event that’ll keep momentum going throughout the year.
“Besides, it’s the best time to be in Utopia,” Sutherland says of the underpopulated hamlet three hours southwest of Austin. “The wildflowers are going crazy and the temperatures are just right. It’s beautiful out here.”