Western heritage showcased

Promoter hopes WestFest will become annual event

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— As the mix of western, outdoors and warm-weather-clothed concertgoers praised the novel mix of country-style music at WestFest this weekend, Doug Terry, who helped bring the event to Steamboat Springs, was sighing a breath of relief.

Terry admitted backstage Sunday he thought the late decision to bring the event to Steamboat Springs, after the concert series already made a stop in Colorado Springs in July, could have had a negative affect on attendance.

But with more than 2,000 people coming to the show each day, Terry said he was happy with the results of the first year.

"Things have been going great," he said. "It's been a wonderful surprise."

Terry, of Terry Sports, collaborated with Kevin Kipp of Paragon Entertainment, Scott Flowers and many others in and around Steamboat to bring Michael Martin Murphey's WestFest to town.

He said over the past four days, the word got out about the show and the last two days of final planning worked out perfectly.

"All of it just came together in a 48-hour period," Terry said.

The traditionally country music act enlisted the talents of bluegrass player Sam Bush on Saturday and folk act Shawn Colvin on Sunday to broaden the musical styles at the show.

Part of the collaborators' motive to bring WestFest to Steamboat Springs was to reinforce the western culture in Routt County. The proceeds of Friday night's WestFest Ball, which featured Murphey and Hal Ketchum, went to Historic Routt County an organization that preserves historical properties in the county.

Terry said having different musical acts at the concerts Saturday and Sunday introduces more young people to different musical styles and a longtime country tradition that needs to be recognized and preserved.

"I think they walked away with a different perspective," Terry said.

Michael Malone has set up a vendor's both and sold his handmade cowboy hats at WestFest since it began in 1988 in Copper Mountain.

"This is fantastic," he said. "We are all friends here. It's a great band of cowboy gypsies."

For a first-year show, Malone said the lineup of performers was quite impressive.

"This is as good as anything you'll hear in Telluride (at the bluegrass festival)," he said. "I hope the townspeople get behind it."

There were numerous booths set up at the show where artisans were selling handmade western wear, art, saddles, jewelry and food.

"For the number of folks that are here, business is good," said Brent Austin, who was selling a variety of western items at his booth.

Austin has sold at WestFest for eight years.

"There are great people here it's a very friendly town," he said.

On the public service side, Steamboat Springs Police Officer Bill Stucker said all was well on the home front with WestFest.

"We haven't had a call out there," he said at about 2 p.m. Sunday.

Terry said he's optimistic the success of the first year of WestFest means it will become an annual event.

"We'll find a way to get it back next year," he said.

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