The Red Lodge Songwriter Festival was launched in 2015 by co-founders Mike Booth and Cory Johnson. Its original idea was to create a multi-day festival to promote tourism in Red Lodge. The inaugural festival was June 2016 featuring four Nashville songwriters and six songwriters from Montana and Wyoming. We hosted ten shows attended by about 500 people throughout the weekend. Fortunately we still managed to operate in the black and donate a little more than $1,000 to local charities. The feedback from fans and supporters encouraged us to keep going.
Leveraging the success of that first festival—and with the support of the local business community—we were able to host a second festival in 2017, and we organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in order to have a bigger impact on the local community. We added more shows, songwriters, and a songwriting contest to the festival.
The third annual festival in 2018 was a breakout year with the addition of a Master Class for songwriters, more shows, sponsors, and fans. We sold out shows on Thursday and Friday nights and had standing room only in the bars and restaurants for our local songwriters. We estimate more than 1,000 people attended our shows over the three-day festival. This success allowed us to award our public school’s music department with a check for $10,000.
Over the four years of our festival we have had some of the greatest songwriters in country music grace us with their talent, Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame members Even Stevens and Hugh Prestwood, hit songwriters Tony Lane, Anthony Smith, Kostas, James Dean Hicks, Brice Long, Brett Jones, Helen Darling, John Pierce, Wynn Varble, Rob Crosby, Will Robinson, and Karen Staley have all played our stage. Thousands of fans continue to buy tickets and come to Red Lodge for this incredible event.
The future is bright for our little festival in our quaint mountain town of Red Lodge. This coming year 24 songwriters from all over the country will perform 18 shows in 9 venues. We anticipate more than 1500 fans will attend these shows. We are opening our grant program to all public school music departments in Carbon County, Montana, and have added a scholarship fund in honor of long-time supporters Dave & Carol Kirby.
Come help us realize our vision of creating a world-class songwriting festival that attracts the very best songwriters and their fans from around the country.
See you in June.