They aren’t a musical group. But seeing the way this four-piece team of University of Wisconsin of Oshkosh students and alumni are strategically orchestrating a large, high-visibility, downtown Oshkosh music festival, you’d think they have been band mates for years.
“This event may help bond the Oshkosh community and bring it together,” said Oshkosh Main Street Music Festival Executive Producer and UW Oshkosh alumnus Benjamin Vosters. “We’re putting our unique spin on what’s already there and giving back to Oshkosh. It should be really fun and if you have the means to do it, you have to because who else will?”
Vosters and his team are making sure that Oshkosh community, community visitors, tourists and anyone else who enjoys various genres of music don’t miss the inaugural Oshkosh Main Street Music Festival from August 1 through 5.
More than 100 original musicians, comedians, artists and entertainers at more than 15 venues will be entertaining downtown Oshkosh from Peabody’s to Ground Round complete with free admission for everyone.
This event consists of various featured Wisconsin musicians including Men in Suits, The Dead Horses, Travelling Suitcases, Derill Pounds and many more which target folk, reggae, hip-hop, DJ, rock, bluegrass, metal and acoustic genres.
“There will be variety to go anywhere and experience limited music. Some groups have never played together before so it will be a one time show for some of the bands. They may never be in the same place and same time again,” Vosters said.
Variety is also a quality of the committee that organized the Oshkosh Main Street Music Festival. There are UW Oshkosh graduates and current students on the planning team, including, Vosters Mike Lokken, Jonathan Hildebrandt and Sierra Ehlert.
Vosters is behind the major planning of this festival, and Lokken is working right beside him, both as executive producers. They hope to see the music festival thrive in its first year and be accepted as a community-wide event in years to come.
“It was a no-brainer to create a music festival in Oshkosh, and I think it is a little over due. Businesses were thankful to get it started and were all on board. Now we just want to make sure everyone has a good time and everything goes smoothly, so we can scale it up for next year,” said Vosters, who, while on campus as a student, served as the development director for WRST.
One way they are making sure everything goes smoothly is by creating a smartphone app where the schedule can be downloaded. Organizers hope the app will make it easier to highlight which bands are most important for each individual.
And individuals are already excited to see what this festival has to offer. UW Oshkosh students who have heard of the upcoming music festival are excited to go and want others to support so it can grow to an annual event.
“I would definitely go to this music festival; it sounds like a really cool event that is good for the community to try something new, and it’s affordable too,” said UW Oshkosh student Hailey Russell, who is a senior human services major.
A way to support this event is by purchasing blue wristbands at Cranky Pat’s in Neenah on Thursday nights from 9 p.m. to close. Patrons can also receive discounts at downtown businesses during the festival.
Vosters is hoping that more of the community finds out about the festival so that he can judge its success based on the reactions. He is using his own past experiences to get the festival started. He has been running his own music event production company, Expansion Theory Productions, since 2009 and also worked as the Talent Buyer for Diablo’s Cantina, the Fox Valley Music Venue.
Lokken helped out with some campus events and other events with Diablo’s Cantina alongside Vosters.
“I am extremely invested in the Oshkosh community and music scene and took no hesitation in jumping on the chance to program DJs for the event,” said Lokken, president of the UW Oshkosh DJ Club.
Lokken also encourages supporters to back the festival’s artists by purchasing their merchandise available on the day of the event. There will be limited edition prints by artist Matt Braun and T-shirts supporting the performers.
Festival sponsors include The Exclusive Company, The Scene Magazine, Satori Imports, Caramel Crisp & Café and Wisco EDM. Bands are also playing at a discounted rate in order to make the event possible.