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It’s Muttonfest Season! Buffalo Band ‘Bighorn Sheep’ Gears Up for its Annual Multi-Day Music Festival

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Muttonfest, the annual summer music festival founded and hosted by Buffalo indie band Bighorn Sheep, will be held this year from Aug 8-10 at Hogarosa Campgrounds in Springville. Fundraisers will be held to help defray costs, with the first to be held this Saturday, June 1, at Tudor Lounge. A second fundraiser will then be held at Tudor Lounge June 29. Festival tickets are available at Muttonfest.com at the link HERE or can be purchased from any of the local bands on the festival bill. Festival tickets — which also will be available at the Tudor Lounge fundraisers — include camping until Sunday morning, Aug. 11.)


When the Buffalo indie band Bighorn Sheep formed a decade ago, it immediately played Infringement Festival and was assigned to play The Foundry, a venue that seemingly became their home for a spell during the annual event. When the group returned there the following year, it was suggested their set be called ‘Muttonfest’ — a homage to the animal from which the band takes its name.

 

“The name just kind of stuck,” said Jeremy Hewett, Bighorn Sheep guitarist and vocalist. “So, we brought along some grills and set them up in the parking lot and fed people. Then, every year, whatever we did for Infringement became ‘Muttonfest.’ For a few years, we played at The Foundry, and then one year we played the roof of the Broadway Market, and then from there, La Salle Park, which is where we really started treating it like a festival… But when we coined ‘Muttonfest,’ we never assumed it was ever going to be anything more than it was at that point.”

 

From grills set up in a Buffalo parking lot a decade ago, “Muttonfest” has now grown into a full-fledged summer music extravaganza. This year, the event will be held over two days — Aug. 8-10 — at Hogarosa Campgrounds in Springville with a bill that will feature 16 bands, vendors, multiple stages, a silent disco glow party, a community cooking area, bonfires and more.

 

It’s no small undertaking. Given that, there will be two fundraising concerts in June at Tudor Lounge to help defray costs associated with the festival planning and operation. The first show will happen at 8 p.m. this Saturday, June 1, with bands Kanuton and Detroit Red. The second show will take place June 29 featuring Idiots of Idealism, Gator and Country Cabbage, and Bighorn Sheep.

 

“We don’t have any sponsorship or really any kind of budget besides revenue generated from ticket sales,” Hewett said. “But there are expenses like insurance which is a good chunk of money. Permits. Decorating the space. One of the things we’re doing this year that we’ve never done: we always had just one stage. We’re having three this year.”

The first night of Muttonfest, which essentially marks arrivals, will include a pre-fest party and barbecue with live music on site. The following day, the first band will hit the stage at 7:20 p.m. and the music will go on until midnight. Music will start on Day Two at 4 p.m. until midnight.

 

“Even as this event has grown, I think we’ve tried very hard to keep that Infringement Fest ethos, which is to be inclusive,” Hewett said. “This year, I definitely tried to include some bands that are younger so we could inject some youthful energy. I’m really looking forward to seeing those bands play.”

 

Hogarosa became Muttonfest’s new home in 2022. But while the campground provided the band with the space it needed to fulfill its vision, the larger venue also brought with it a shift in how the band needed to approach the annual event.

 

“Muttonfest started with us not really planning anything other than just going to the store and grabbing a couple packs of hotdogs and some ice and beer before we went down to LaSalle Park,” Hewett said. “Now I start planning for this usually after Halloween. As it grows, I try to get ahead of it. You have to gather bands; figure out dates … It’s not a full-time thing obviously, but it takes up a good deal of my free time, even just thinking about it when I’m not actively working on it. My mind is constantly thinking about it and figuring out what we might want to do differently and things like that.”

 

What remains the same about Muttonfest despite its growth, however, is how much the

band looks forward to the event each year and the sense of community it brings. And for Bighorn Sheep, the value of community is something on which it thrives.

 

“I’m pretty excited,” Hewett said. “The hardest part of the job is the marketing, especially with no budget. But I look at all the things we’ve built since we started this. The band isn’t too much different than it was. But we’ve built this studio (Buffalo Underground Records) and we’ve been able to release music, not just ours but by other bands. Mixing and mastering albums is something I did not expect to be getting involved in, but I started doing that. I feel pretty solid about all we’ve been able to do and put together. It’s exhausting. Sometimes I wonder why I’ve invested all this time and don’t live a normal life (laughs).”

 

“I should point out too, a couple of us in the band have worked as stagehands,” Hewett added. “We’ve all had that experience of working DIY festivals. So it doesn’t surprise me that we’re doing this because we’ve always been about doing DIY stuff. But while it doesn’t surprise me to see where we’re at now, it was definitely never planned. We never really set out to do anything but play some shows. So, yeah, it’s been very cool.”

 

 

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