A bit about Blue Skies
“We just put out the call one year and said, well, why don't we try this?
We've got the land.”
— Oskar Graf
“Oskar and I are standing by the stage. It is a hot and dry summer afternoon. There is a smattering of folks littering the hillside overlooking the stage (built out of raw timber). The hayfield has been cut. Over the hill there is some kind of food shack and some soon-to-be-funky outhouses.
Musicians? We invited a few of our friends. Oskar turns to me and says ‘You start off’
And so it began. No artistic director, no stage manager, no promo kits, no demo tapes, no order of events, no MC, no set list, no crowd, no nada.”
— Greg Forbes
It all began with a picnic. It was a beautiful summer weekend in the early '70's. A few friends got together to enjoy the weather, each other's company and a spectacular natural amphitheatre surrounded by pristine wilderness. Since then Blue Skies Music Festival has returned for one weekend a year to this gorgeous site.
Over the years, Blue Skies has evolved in its own, quirky way. With an organizational structure more like a group of friends than a board of directors, and an eye to staying small and manageable rather than big and money-making, Blue Skies has developed its own way of doing things.
A great party and a tight community, Blue Skies has also been known since the start as a bit of a musician's festival. There's a relaxed and informal atmosphere that allows performers, audience and organizers to ease back a bit and just enjoy. It's the kind of place where you just might find yourself sitting around the campfire jamming with the musicians you just watched on stage, or doing a volunteer shift shoulder to shoulder with your musical hero.
Of course, this has meant that everyone wants to come. This has put a lot of pressure on the festival since the earliest days. In fact, for over thirty years our weekend camping passes have been sold out way in advance every single year. Since the early '80s, Blue Skies weekend camping passes have been decided by lottery.
Part of Blue Skies focus has always been giving back to the community. That's what our charitable wing, Blue Skies in the Community, is all about. Through BSIC we reach out to the local community with musical education programs and support for a variety of undertakings.
One thing we've always paid a lot of attention to is keeping our impact on the land as small as possible. This has led us to things like our no cars on site rule during the festival, the bring your own plates and cutlery to the cookshack policy and, exciting news, going garbage-free in 2015.
In many ways Blue Skies remains the mid-summer picnic it started as. The same focus on the music, the same sense of sharing with the community, the same gorgeous site. Somehow, we've managed to hang on for all these years, and its all in many ways thanks to the guy who had the original idea way back in '73.
So, thanks Oskar. Nice work.