Metal music festival Fire in the Mountains is officially cleared to rock Buffalo Valley in July after the county approved its special-event permit Thursday.
Teton County Administrator Alyssa Watkins OK’d the weekend concert at Heart Six Ranch after a review by departments like the Teton County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson Hole Fire/EMS.
The county imposed several conditions, including prohibiting on-site camping, limits on amplified noise and a required consultation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to protect wildlife from concert impacts.
It’s the second summer in a row the festival will happen in Moran. Organizer Jeremy Walker said he plans to bring in bigger, better bands this year for ticket holders to enjoy against the backdrop of the Tetons.
“We’re trying to grow it and gain its popularity,” Walker said. “We’re trying to turn it into a world-renowned festival.”
Already on the lineup are astral death-metal band Blood Incantation, funeral-doom group Un and ritualistic neofolk group Osi and the Jupiter. While in 2018 the concert was capped at 400 attendees, this year organizers are planning for a maximum of 950. The festival also emphasizes local food and drink vendors and invites guests to camp on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
For two years, neighbors in the rural area of Moran have worried about the concert disrupting wildlife habitat and residential neighborhoods.
“To grant a permit like that for a heavy-metal concert in this area that’s supposed to be kept pristine for wildlife just seems really strange to us,” resident Andrea Riniker said.
In a guest shot with the Jackson Hole News&Guide, another festival organizer, Shane McCarthy, said Fire in the Mountains is centered around an appreciation for and protection of the natural environment.
“These are just people who love music, love the beauty of the natural world and gather to celebrate the joining of the two,” McCarthy wrote.
At last year’s festival, Teton County sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Stanyon said there wasn’t a single run-in with law enforcement, other than a couple of noise complaints.
“It was a very peaceful crowd,” Stanyon said.
The permitting process for the event has drawn attention to how the county regulates concerts on private, rural property. Many rural areas’ zoning allows landowners to host up to three “outdoor receptions” with almost no limitations on the scale of the event.
Watkins is charged with reviewing applications and certifying events’ compliance by distributing them for review by departments like the Sheriff’s Office and Fire/EMS. Events can be denied if they constitute a “nuisance” that substantially interferes with neighbors’ enjoyment of their own property. A group of private citizens is working to propose a new process.
The concert, which continues to announce its lineup, is set for July 13 and 14.