SHIVWITS RESERVATION — The saying goes that if you build it, they will come. And for the first Bonfire Music Festival, produced by Heart of Dixie, come they did.
With an estimated 2,000 or more in attendance, festival-goers enjoyed a night full of music, vendors, camping, dancing and tailgating.
At 10 p.m. Saturday, a line of cars reached from the venue entrance all the way to Old Highway 91 as staff worked to move people into the festival.
Salt Lake City artist DJ Bangarang worked the turn tables alongside local DJ’s like DJ Colucci and Misterkay.
The camping village was bustling with tents, coolers, camp chairs and party people. The option to camp allowed for a safe alternative to driving for attendees who chose to drink.
Safety is a big concern, event organizer Jared Keddington said, adding that they had 25 security guards on-site.
Since the festival was held on tribe-owned land, event organizers have some freedoms that wouldn’t have been allowed if they had attempted the event in city limits, he said, such as stopping people on their way out to check if the driver had been drinking.
“At some point tonight when people start leaving, (security) will have an exit check,” Keddington said. “If someone’s been drinking, we’re not going to let them leave. I’m not going to condone that or let it happen.”
He went on to say that staff could call cabs for those people wanting to leave.
As part of event organizer’s agreement with the tribe for leasing the land, the main food and drink vendors for the festival were the Shivwit Band of Paiutes.
“It’s helping out the people on the reservation, as many of them as we can possibly employ to get this thing to happen was our deal with them,” Keddington said. “The tribe has actually been really great to work with,” he went on to say.
The Bonfire Music Festival wasn’t originally envisioned to take place on the reservation, but when Keddington saw the land, he knew he had found their venue.
“There’s just so much room for growth, so we just went all out on it and turned it into a huge production,” Keddington said. “We want everybody that comes out to have a really good time and feel like what happened out here was really good and worth coming back to.”
He added that he hopes the festival’s success will help catapult the location into an established music festival venue.
“I think St. George needs it,” he said, “like in a really bad way.”
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