Bluegrass music while saving the earth: Blue Ox Music Festival announces its line up and its plan to go wasteless

Blue Ox Music Festival plans to bring more performers, vendors and recycling to the community

More stories from Jordan Niles


Blue Ox Music Festival Logo

With the cold bearing down on us, it is hard to imagine the warm summer breeze whistling by as boisterous bluegrass is carried across the campground.

Despite this, Blue Ox Music Festival refuses to be forgotten as it announced its lineup of performers this past week. From returning favorites such as Greensky Bluegrass and Tin Can Gin to other newcomers, this year is hosting more performers than ever before.

Jim Bischel, president of the Blue Ox Music Festival, said he’s particularly excited for Bela Fleck and the Fleckstones to perform this year.

In addition to the new lineup, the infrastructure of the event is being revamped. Bischel said new roads are being laid down, the campgrounds are being renovated and the concert grounds are being reseated. In addition, enhanced audio and staging equipment are being installed.

While the infrastructure is getting a makeover, the layout is remaining the same. Bischel said the layout of the previous year worked very well, so he intends to keep it. Performances will also be held within the same hours as last year’s festival.

Bischel also plans on having larger gates for check in. To aid in the check-in process, wireless wi-fi is being installed in the campgrounds so scanners may be utilized. The wi-fi will be available for attendee use, though it is expected to be a pay-per-use service.

The Blue Ox Music Festival also has a very special project in motion: becoming a 100% recycled event.

Bischel said his interest in making the Blue Ox Music Festival zero waste, and is working towards having everything at the event recycled. This is a major undertaking, but would grant the festival the honor of being the first music festival in the midwest to be without waste.

Bischel said many attendees are environmentally conscientious and such a move would please the fans.

When told of Bischel’s plan to go waste-free sophomore Charlie Plaziak, a geology and spanish double major, thought it was a good initiative.

“I believe we need to do a better job taking care of our planet,” Plaziak said. “It is a very socially responsible thing to do, and I applaud them for putting forth that effort.”

Plaziak added that last year’s event “was overall a good experience.”

“Between the bands that were playing and the crowd that was there, everyone just seemed generally happy to be there,” Plaziak said.

In regard to recycling at the event, McIntyre Library Program Associate Trista Anderson said organizers of Blue Ox were already making “pretty good” initiatives last year, as they had stainless steel cups attendees were able to buy for their drinks.

“A lot of festivals you go to there is a sea of garbage because people just throw their stuff on the ground, and it was not like that at this festival,” Anderson said. “We have our Blue Ox cups and we drink out of them daily.”

Blue Ox Music Festival will be June 9 to June 11 this year. Tickets are available for purchase now.

“The combination of friendly crowd, good music, and good food just makes a magical experience where for a few days you are in a little bubble where no problems exist,” Anderson said.