3-day Backcountry music festival set in Gardnerville

RVs and trailers pack the Corley Ranch on Saturday for the BackCountry Music Festival.

RVs and trailers pack the Corley Ranch on Saturday for the BackCountry Music Festival.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

There’s a new festival coming to the Carson Valley when Backcountry Music takes place June 2-4 at Corley Ranch. Over three days, more than 25 bands with Americana and country roots will perform amid the ranch scenery with the Eastern Sierra backdrop and plenty of barbecue food to fill everyone’s bellies. With more than 300 acres on the ranch there is plenty of space for attendees to camp overnight.

Gardnerville resident Ryan Kronenberg founded the festival and he’s proud to be hosting the festival where he grew up and now calls home.

“It’s a dream of mine to do an event in my hometown,” he said. “As far as this type of event, for the culture and the place and what’s going on — country music and barbecue seemed like a good fit.”

Kronenberg worked with many non-profits to make everything possible and worked closely with the Cultural Arts Foundation of Douglas County. Todd Whear, of the Cultural Arts Foundation, said it was a fantastic process of putting the festival together in such a short time.

“It’s a testimony to how Ryan and his crew are organized and how well-experienced they are,” he said. “It’s going to be a family-friendly, high quality, class-act type of event.”

Whear said they’ve wanted to have a music event like this for a while, and it all started to fall in place when they met Kronenberg and their goals started to align. Kronenberg said it’s important to work with the community to have a successful event it’s all worked out to put this on.

“As a live show producer, it’s about creating community, culture and facilitating the artists and giving them a platform to shine and showcase their talent,” he said.


The festival booked 25 bands with a mix of national, regional and local influence. The festival has well-known acts Midland, Ashley McBryde and Paul Cauthen as headliners. McBryde has won some awards recently including a Grammy this year for best duo with Carly Pearce.

Another artist with some buzz around her is Hailey Whitters, who won New Female Artist of the Year from the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Whear said the music booked for the festival are all up-and-comers, and Kronenberg and his crew have a niche for finding talent that hasn’t been tapped and hit the mainstream yet.

“The lineup is absolutely stellar,” Whear said. “We’re going to be seeing a lot of these acts on the radio and winning awards, and pretty soon they’ll be headlining themselves and have their own tours. It’s really exciting for being on the cutting edge of country music.”


Among many of the bigger names on the lineup are also many artists who are local or regional acts.

“We definitely put our best foot forward to not only get cool national headliners, but also getting local and regional music,” Kronenberg said. “We tried hard to support the local scene.”

This includes Carson Valley’s Jakota Wass and Virginia City’s Jake Houston & The Royal Flush. From the Tahoe area: Dead Winter Carpenters; Darren Senn; Mescalito; Everyday Outlaw. Lauren Reno grew up in the area and moved to Nashville, so this will be like a homecoming for her.

Wass said he’s more than happy to be part of the Backcountry Festival.

“I’m super excited to be part of such a fun, new event coming to the Carson Valley. I’m looking forward to good times, good music and good food,” he said. “It’s such a special thing, and for me to be on the list is very meaningful and I can’t wait to show off some new music for the home crowd and people coming in for the first time.”

Wass it’ll be the first time he’ll be playing for this size of a crowd. His band has been practicing and putting together a set of original songs. He wants to showcase his recent song “Battle Born” for the crowd.

“It’s kind of just about the small-town vibes that everyone is going to be coming to see here during the Backcountry Fest,” he said.

Wass said he can’t wait to see and meet some of the musicians he’s listened to and looked up to. Midland is a band that he enjoys and he’s learned some of their songs. He said he’ll be watching their concert and hopefully getting inspiration from other artists.


Corley Ranch shows rural Nevada life on its 300 acres. It’s a real working ranch raising cattle, farming, hay and pumpkins. Kronenberg said it’s a beautiful facility.

“There’s real majestic views of the Eastern Sierra in the background,” he said. “Jobs Peak is basically the backdrop for the stage.”

To let these artists show off what they can do and give the audience a great experience, Kronenberg said they booked quality production and professional services by sourcing Reno business JMF Entertainment for most of the stage equipment.

“It’s going to be a top-notch production,” he said.

They’re expecting thousands to be coming from out of town and they’ll be ready with plenty of space for parking and camping. Different camping passes are available from car camping to RV camping. The main venue has an 8-acre pasture providing space for comfort.

Beyond the music, they are highlighting barbecue food and planning a cookout contest. There will be a food court, craft beer vendors and wine and spirits vendors.

The festival is family-friendly and there will be a Kids Zone with crafts and games.

They’ve scheduled rodeo activities and demonstrations along with western heritage workshops, where attendees can learn more about rural Nevada culture.

There are full festival passes available with camping included and single day tickets are available. Locals can find discounted tickets at Big Daddy Bike and Brew in Gardnerville.


Kronenberg has an extensive résumé when it comes to putting on similar events. He founded Hangtown Music Festival in Placerville, California; and he’s worked with BottleRock Napa Valley, SnowGlobe and WinterWonderGrass around Lake Tahoe, High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California, and more. He has experience working all over the country and world helping put on large-scale events, so he is confident in Backcountry’s ability to be successful.

“I feel like all of what I’ve learned and my experiences with production to operations is kind of culminating into these new events,” he said. “Doing something like this in my hometown feels special and it was always something we wanted to do.”

A goal of the organizers is for this to become an annual event, and Corley Ranch has the room for growth. Whear said this event will bring many to the area that is an untapped source of beauty already close to other tourist destinations. He said it’s hard to show everyone what an inaugural festival will be like until they get through it, but he said it will something Douglas County and outlying regions will have an opportunity to take advantage of.

“Once we get through the first one, it’s going to get bigger and bigger — an economic vitality type of event,” he said.


WHAT: Backcountry Festival

WHEN: June 2-4

WHERE: Corley Ranch

MORE INFO: Find the full lineup, ticket info and FAQs at www.backcountryfest.com


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