Fans, musician happy with first Backcountry Festival

Whitey Morgan & The 78s perform on the main stage at Backcountry Festival on Corley Ranch in Gardnerville on June 3, 2023.

Whitey Morgan & The 78s perform on the main stage at Backcountry Festival on Corley Ranch in Gardnerville on June 3, 2023.
Photo by Kyler Klix.

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The cowboy boots were putting in some time on the dance floor last weekend as Corley Ranch hosted the inaugural Backcountry Festival in Gardnerville from June 2-4.

The weekend had 27 bands play over three days on three stages at the historic Corley Ranch.

Thousands came out for the first event and many locals were excited to have live country music on a big stage so close to home.

Among most responses from the fans, people really enjoyed the music, the scenery of the ranch and the family-friendly environment.


Jesse Turnage and Nolan Boyer traveled about eight hours from outside of Hailey, Idaho for Backcountry Festival.

“It’s good music worth travelling for,” Turnage said. “We were impressed with how close we could get to the stage and have so much room around us.”

Boyer said some of the bands they were excited to see were Hellbound Glory and Whitey Morgan.

“It’s a beautiful place; we’ve had a good time here for sure,” he said.

Faith Brown and Heather Jackson said a friend told them about the festival and it sounded fun, although they weren’t familiar with anyone on the lineup. After hanging out all weekend, they discovered plenty of new music.

“I didn’t know any of the bands before I came,” Brown said. “But now I’m a huge fan of all of them, which is great.”

Jackson said the environment on Corley was beautiful and nice and people were friendly.

“Everybody has been so nice,” she said. “The security, the workers, everybody.”


Sean Lynam from Gardnerville came to the event with his wife and two kids, Jack (19 months old) and Oliver (7 months old). He said he was happy to have the event in his hometown and he enjoyed the size of it.

“It’s nice to have something small and local for our community,” he said. “It gives us a chance to come out and vibe.”

He said they try to bring their kids to everything they go to and it was an easy decision for them to bring them to this.

“It’s nice and open; there’s a ton of people and everybody is friendly,” he said. “It’s easy to keep an eye on them.”

Mike Ensign, from Gardnerville, had two boys with him and he said he was excited for country music in their hometown. He said it’s been 100 percent family friendly and it was a no-brainer bringing the kids.

“It’s great, I hope it keeps going for the future, it’d be sick,” he said. “The kids love it; the whole family loves it.

Katrina Pilcher and Liz Wilson, both from Tahoe City, were coordinators of the Kids Zone. They had different projects for the kids each day including making horse puppets, decorating bolo ties and sunglasses. There was a slip and slide, bubbles and other toys for the kids to play with. Pilcher said the Kids Zone was very well attended and they can’t wait until next year.

Wilson said many parents appreciated the Kids Zone.

“A lot of parents have come up to us and said, ‘thank you, our kids have been here for hours and it’s allowed us to just enjoy the music,” said Wilson.


From a performer’s perspective, Eric Lindell said the event was a “slam dunk and a home run.”

“I think it was a great time. For the first one, I think it was amazing,” he said. “Everybody here has done a first-class job.”

Lindell performed two sets Friday night. The musician from Florida has played in the area before but this was his first in Gardnerville. He said he loved playing on the ranch with incredible views no matter which way you look.

“I love the ranch; it’s amazing and a really special place,” he said.

He said he enjoyed the smaller, intimate feeling because it was easy to get to the bathroom and people weren’t waiting in long lines for food or drinks.


Gardnerville resident Cheryl Remick said she was loving the festival being so close to home and the organizers were doing a great job. She admired seeing music on Corley Ranch.

“Being on the ranch — I love it; that’s why we live here in Gardnerville,” she said. “We’re country people.”

She immersed herself in the full experience by camping out, which she said is cheaper than a DUI. She enjoyed all of the music and Ashley McBryde was one of her favorite artists to see.

“They’re all good, but at the top of my list — Ashley really stood out for us,” she said. “We’ll see what it brings next year; we’re excited.”

She is looking forward to next year and said she’ll buy tickets as soon as they go on sale.

MJ Buckley, from Reno, made her way to the fairgrounds for the first time on Sunday. She did not come on Friday or Saturday because she was busy, but she made sure to come down on the last day.

“I wanted to come out because it’s the first one,” she said. “Having it so close to home — it’s great.”

She said she was familiar with other events festival organizer Ryan Kronenberg put on, including Hangtown Music Festival and the Golden Road Gathering.

“Ryan’s going to do a great job with this, I know it,” she said.


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