For Evin Betts, the key to a good music festival is good people.
“I like being around artistic people and people who can influence you in a positive way. I think music festivals are a great way to do that, and I want other people to be inspired to be what they want to be,” Betts said.
Betts, who founded Benton’s Sugar Creek Music Festival four years ago, spends his summers traveling to other festivals all over the country and handpicking interesting people to invite to his own — from music-lovers to artists to fire performers.
“I usually feel them out and find out what kind of people they are, and if they’re people I want at my event, I hand them a flyer and tell them what I’m doing,” Betts said.
The three-night music, arts and camping event will be held Sept. 21-23 at Camp Manitowa, adjacent to Rend Lake in Franklin County.
This year’s lineup features Aaron Kamm & the One Drops, of St. Louis; Texas prog rockers Spoonfed Tribe; Earphorik, of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Calabash of Evansville, Indiana; Carbondale’s Porch Fire, a “jam-grass” group; Big Atomic of Murray, Kentucky; Chromophonic, of Carbondale; Decatur’s Woodland Remedy; psychedelic blues-rock group Alabaster; Jeni B.; Pete’s Sake; and Jerry Rigged.
A Thursday night pre-party will include performances by the Tie Dye Family Band and Blue Fruit Snacks.
In addition, Carbondale musician Bongo Pablo will host a “soopa jam” during the pre-party and festival at a location separate from the main stage. The open jam is one of Betts’ favorite parts of the festival.
“All these bands get together and just throw down — they don’t even know what’s going to come of it. It’s not rehearsed or anything. That’s one of the coolest things ever to see happen,” Betts said.
The festival boasts a long list of interactive activities, including a high-ropes course, zip-lining, kayaking and canoeing, yoga, guided meditation, fire-spinning performances and a workshop on hula-hoop tricks. Multiple live artists will be painting throughout the musical performances.
“It’s very uplifting. People are just really chill and welcoming — basically it’s like one big family, is how I think of things out there,” Betts said.
The festival is family friendly and children are welcome, Betts said. Restrooms and showers are available onsite.
Camping is included in the ticket price, and RV passes are available for an additional $25 charge. Yurts are also available for rent through Camp Manitowa for $200; they sleep 14.
Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the gate; the pre-party costs an extra $10. Saturday one-day passes are available for $30.
Tickets can be purchased at tickets.sugarcreekmusicfestival.com or at one of the following locations: Hempies in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Longbranch Café & Bakery in Carbondale; Makanda Trading Company in Makanda; and Sunshine Daydream in Fairview Heights and St. Louis, Missouri.