For the past 13 years, a beloved musical group from Jackson Hole, Wyoming has delighted local crowds with its unique blend of bluegrass, country and slightly irreverent but still family-friendly humor.
The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to put the tradition on hold this year, but the persistence of local organizers is looking like it will pay off as the Bar J Wranglers are scheduled to make a stop in the Bear River Valley once again.
The group is slated to perform at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds main events center (Home Arts building) in Tremonton on Saturday, Nov. 21.
In recent years, the Bar J Wranglers have performed at the Bear River High School auditorium. With that venue unavailable this year due to COVID-19, local organizers Clint Munns and Scott Pella have been working overtime to try to make other arrangements.
Munns, who originally got the Bar J Wranglers to do a local show 14 years ago as a benefit to raise money to build a new little league football field, said it has become an important fundraiser for a variety of good causes in local communities, including Box Elder County 4-H and the Garland Public Library, among others.
Once it became evident that the high school auditorium wouldn’t be an option this year, Munns’ first plan was to have an outdoor show at the Garland City Park in October. Garland officials were on board with that, but enthusiasm for an outdoor concert that late in the year was low, Munns said.
“COVID came and closed everything down, and I told Scott it didn’t look like we would have a show this year,” he said. “I’m glad we’re gonna have an opportunity.”
Munns and Pella visited the Box Elder County Commission meeting last week to seek permission to use the fairgrounds, and commissioners were happy to oblige, including waiving the $50-per-hour rental fee to use the building and agreeing to cover the cost of liability insurance for the event.
The recent move by Utah officials to allow Box Elder County to move into the “green” phase of reopening under the state’s COVID-19 safety plan makes the plan feasible because it allows for large gatherings to once again be held in the county, Commissioner Jeff Scott said.
Pella said at least 500 tickets will need to be sold in order to make the effort worthwhile. Since the concert will be held in a venue that only seats 900, social distancing won’t be realistic, so Scott said organizers should ask those in attendance to wear facemasks and use hand-sanitizing stations provided at the show.
“Like we did with the (Golden Spike) rodeo, let’s ask everybody to mask up,” he said.
The concert could still be put in jeopardy if something were to happen between now and Nov. 21 that prompted the state to move the county back into the “yellow” phase, such as a local spike in COVID-19 infections, but “between masking and hand sanitizing, I think we’ll be OK,” Scott said.
In the event of a cancellation, Pella said the ticket broker for the event has a “pretty liberal” return policy because of the uncertain nature of live events this year, so anyone who bought advance tickets would be able to get a refund.
Munns said the Bar J Wranglers annual show in the Bear River Valley has become a highly anticipated event for locals, especially those who used to travel to Jackson Hole to see the group, but can’t anymore due to age or other factors.
He said the goal is to raise enough to make it worthwhile for the band to make the trip, and hopefully to fulfill the traditional role of donating to local charitable causes. This year’s show will benefit the Madson Foundation, which provides scholarships each year to students from Bear River and Box Elder high schools.
Munns said the show is also an opportunity to support the Bar J Wranglers themselves, who along with the rest of the live entertainment industry have faced major challenges during the pandemic.
“We hope people will show generosity and come to the show and support them,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, and we don’t take anything out of it.”
Tickets are $20 and are available online at www.showtix4u.com, or by calling (866) 967-8167. Tickets can also be purchased at Kent’s Market in Tremonton.
For more information, call Munns at (435) 452-1764 or Pella at (435) 279-3484. People in the Brigham City area can call Dot Huggins at (435) 452-2857.