Crystal Butler, a Benton County native who has promoted music festivals in Kansas City and Oklahoma, is putting on her biggest festival yet right in her own backyard. Or close to it, at least.
“I live about a mile from the venue,” she said of the Walters Ranch in rural Lincoln, which will host the inaugural Missouri Big Ass Rock Festival from Friday through Sunday.
The festival — featuring 26 modern rock bands from around the world — is notable for a few reasons. First, let’s address the elephant — or rather, the donkey — in the room: The festival’s moniker.
“You know, I get people who think it’s awesome and I get others who say it’s profanity,” Butler said. “It’s not profanity. We have a rather huge donkey coming out by the name of Katie. We’ll have her out on the grounds for pictures. She is a jackass. Some people don’t like that, but that’s the reason for the name.”
Butler admitted she also chose the name to get noticed.
“My thinking is people will stop and look at it because it says ‘Missouri Big Ass Rock Festival.’ I hope we have great feedback, but I guess you never know.”
Secondly, compared to other states, Missouri has a surprising dearth of summer music festivals, and Butler hopes the Big Ass Rock Festival will begin to rectify that.
“I’m hoping we can do this annually,” she said. “We really don’t have anything going on here like other places do, like St. Louis and Kansas City. Yeah, we’ve got the state fair, but for people who like rock, they don’t have the rock. So that’s more or less the reason — there’s absolutely nothing to do here.”
Thirdly, there are the bands, which will take the stage starting at 5 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Missouri is well-represented, of course, with Sweet Shot carrying the Sedalia torch, and Burning Tide, Obsidian, Rocker Lips, Syn City Cowboys and Isaac James representing Kansas City. Divide the Empire comes from St. Louis, while Ghost in the Machine resides just up the road in California, Mo. That band plays fairly often at Columbia venues such as The Blue Note, and Butler claimed “They’re awesome.”
The headlining band — scheduled for about 8:30 p.m. Sunday — is the Texas Hippie Coalition. But that’s not the band making the longest journey — not even close.
“We have three or four bands from Australia, one from Italy, one from Los Angeles, one from New York, literally bands from around the world,” Butler said.
While Butler used her promoting savvy to draw the far-flung bands, the in-state rockers were an easy sell, despite the fact that the Missouri Big Ass Rock Festival is new.
“A lot of Missouri bands want to help the festival grow because it’s where they’re from,” Butler said.
Oh, and a fourth thing that makes the Missouri Big Ass Rock Festival noteworthy: The Jesse James American Outlaw Bourbon Girls will be on hand, selling beverages and posing for photographs.
Jesse James must be one of the event’s sponsors then?
“They’re an attraction,” Butler said.
For the complete lineup of bands or to purchase tickets, visit missouribigassrockfestival.com. Advance tickets can also be purchased at Friendly’s Tavern in Sedalia, Rick’s Lincoln Inn in Lincoln, and Sportsman Outfitters in Warsaw.
Purchased in advance, tickets are $20 per day or $27.50 for a weekend pass. For a weekend pass of camping and music, tickets are $60. At the gate, prices will be higher.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Missouri Big Ass Rock Festival
WHEN: 5 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday
WHERE: Walters Ranch, 26247 Highway B near Lincoln
ADVANCE TICKETS: $20 (single day, music only), $27.50 (three days, music only), $60 (three days, music and camping). Tickets can be purchased at missouribigassrockfestival.com or at Friendly’s Tavern in Sedalia.