Steamboat Springs The wind blew dust that would sting eyes and the sky sprinkled rain on the crowd at the Independence Incident Wednesday, but it didn't dampen the good spirits or phase the bluegrass music on the first day of Steamboat Springs' largest music festival.
Though no officials were available to estimate on the number of people who came to the concert Wednesday, an official at the ticket counter said he was pretty sure just fewer than 4,000 attended.
Police officers working at the show said law enforcement was told 12,000 tickets were sold for both days.
No matter what the counts were, the music was good and festivalgoers enjoyed the day.
Boulder bluegrass band Yonder Mountain String Band started the day, playing their brand of jam grass. Bluegrass legend and banjo player Earl Scruggs and his band followed that.
Scruggs, who first became known for being in Bill Monroe's first band in the '40s and then became famous playing the with Lester Flatt, played his classics, including "The Ballad of Jed Clampett." That was the theme song for the television show "The Beverly Hillbillies," which Scruggs recorded for the show. It ended up being his biggest hit.
"I was standing 20 feet from Earl Scruggs," declared Steamboat resident Eric Freels. "I love Earl."
Freels, who went to the show last year, said the change of venue to the Tennis Meadows from the mountain was a good move.
The String Cheese Incident followed, with each member of the five-piece band, except Michael Kang, the mandolin and fiddle player, wore goggles to protect there eyes from the dust.
"We're going to get you all moving so we all can stay warm," guitarist and front man Bill Nershi said when the band came out. They ripped into one of their melodic tunes, with Kang on fiddle, and the large crowd, standing close to each other, cheered and danced together.
String Cheese invited Scruggs and Yonder Mountain mandolin player Jeff Austin on stage for two old-time numbers.
"I think it's nice," said Roula Katsantonis, who came from Missouri to see the shows. "It's a beautiful place."
Adam Deaver, from the Boulder area, agreed.
"Right now it's pretty small, but the booths are good and we got great seats, no problem," he said.
Sam Compton, a 23-year-old Tennessee native, is traveling the country seeing music and said getting people from all around the country to see music is a good thing.
"This is so important, it's so necessary," he said.
Corey Harris and James Brown play today, with the String Cheese Incident playing into the evening.