Your guide to the 2024 Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire

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The city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, located in the northwest region of the state, is well known for its bountiful art scene. The city is home to multitudes of sculptures, murals, and festivals — including several annual music festivals, like the Blue Ox Music Festival. 

For the past 10 years, thousands of bluegrass, roots, and Americana music fans have made their way to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to attend the Blue Ox Music Festival — a three-day celebration of string music genres. Held in Eau Claire’s The Pines Music Park, the event features more than 40 artists performing across three stages.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2024 event. 

What is the Blue Ox Music Festival?

The Blue Ox Music Festival began in 2015 as a combined effort between the festival’s president, Jim Bischel, who previously booked Country Jam USA, a country music festival in Eau Claire, and the Americana and roots band, Pert Near Sandstone. Bischel, who owns the property where the festival has been held for the past decade, partners with the band to curate the festival’s lineup each year.

It’s a milestone year for the bluegrass festival, as 2024 marks the 10th anniversary of the Blue Ox Music Festival.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ox Music Festival via Instagram.

When is it?

The festival will be held Thursday, June 27 through Saturday, June 29, 2024.

Where is it?

The festival will be held at The Pines Music Park, its home since the festival’s inception in 2015. The park is located at 5024 Crescent Ave. in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ox Music Festival via Instagram.

Who’s playing?

The three-day festival has an extensive lineup, with more than 40 bluegrass, roots, and Americana acts performing. Some of the main stage acts include Band of Horses, Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange), Leftover Salmon, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, Sam Bush, and Sierra Ferrell. The festival will also feature a performance by Pert Near Sandstone, an Americana and roots band from Minnesota. Pert Near Sandstone has hosted and co-curated the festival every year since it was first established in 2015.

The festival has three stages where artists perform, and late-night sets happen at the festival’s Backwoods Stage every night. 

Photo courtesy of Blue Ox Music Festival via Instagram.

What else is there to do?

While many attendees attend the music festival to see some of their favorite artists perform, live music isn’t the only thing that Blue Ox Music Festival has to offer. The festival offers nine holes of disc golf and also offers yoga, meditation, dancing, and breathwork classes at The Soul Sanctuary — a designated space further from the stages so participants can have a quiet area to partake in activities.

For avid shoppers, or anyone who likes to pick up concert merch, the festival will have several craft and hardgood vendors selling items, including Blue Ox Music Festival merchandise and artist merchandise, as well as other handmade crafts.

Attendees can also learn how to play their own music by visiting one of the festival’s music workshops. The workshops will provide beginner-level instruction to anyone looking to learn more about how to play string instruments. Instructors will also teach about bluegrass, roots, and Americana music, as well as other traditional string genres. Participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments and chairs.

While Blue Ox Music Festival is centered around music, it’s also an opportunity to explore other art forms, especially by checking out Art in the Pines, an assortment of visual art pieces created by regional artists, which are installed throughout the camp and festival grounds.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ox Music Festival via Instagram.

Are there any off-site activities?

The festival also serves as an opportunity to interact with nature. The festival offers three different outdoor experiences that attendees can take part in, including a canoe trip that takes participants on a half-day guided canoe ride down the Chippewa River. Participants are picked up from the festival’s grounds, and the canoes are launched from Phoenix Park in Eau Claire. The canoe trip costs $75 a person, which includes all equipment, and is limited to 20 participants. 

The festival is also offering a plant identification hike, which costs $40 per person and is led by a local herbalist. Another option for attendees to explore the outdoors is by taking part in a float down the Chippewa River, which costs $25 per person. The three-hour river float takes off from Phoenix Park. Participants can bring their own river floats or rent/purchase one from Eau Claire Outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ox Music Festival via Instagram.

What food and drinks are available?

Each year, the Blue Ox Music Festival brings in a wide variety of food and beverage vendors that are located throughout the festival grounds. The festival will announce its list of food and beverage vendors closer to the start of the festival.

Although drinks are available for purchase, the Blue Ox Music Festival recommends that attendees bring a reusable water bottle to the festival as well. There are several free filtered water stations throughout the festival grounds.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ox Music Festival via Instagram.

Where do attendees stay?

For the most part, Blue Ox Music Festival attendees don’t leave the festival all weekend long. At night, a majority of festival goers camp on the grounds. The festival grounds, which span 120 acres, have a large space for camping, and several different camping options. 

All attendees can camp in an unreserved spot, although spots are first come first serve — there’s even a family camping area with a midnight curfew and designated quiet hours. If campers who are staying in unreserved spots want to have their car near them, a car camping pass, which costs $65, needs to be purchased; otherwise, cars need to be parked in an overflow parking area. Campers that have a car camping pass can also sleep in their cars throughout the weekend.

There are also reserved spots that cost between $145 and $300, depending on the size of the space.

Camping isn’t the only option, though — there are plenty of hotels in Eau Claire, including several that the festival has partnered with, and provides shuttles to and from.

Photo courtesy of Blue Ox Music Festival via Instagram.

How much are tickets?

The Blue Ox Music Festival has several different ticket options for attendees to choose from. The festival sells one-day general admission tickets for $145. A two-day general admission ticket, which can be used on Friday and Saturday, costs $244, and a three-day general admission ticket costs $254. 

The festival also offers VIP packages, which include admission to the festival, a stainless steel mug, 12 complimentary beverage passes, complimentary tap beer, catered meals, a backstage campsite with electricity, and all-access backstage passes. The VIP package costs $5,000 for two people and $8,000 for four people.

All ages are welcome at the festival, and children under the age of 13 can enter for free.

More information, including the festival’s full lineup, can be found on its website.


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Author

  • Erin Yarnall

    Erin Yarnall is a freelance writer based in northern Illinois. Her work has been published in Alternative Press, The Toronto Star, Time Out, The Chicago Tribune and Eat This, Not That, among other publications. When she’s not writing, Erin enjoys running marathons at a snail’s pace, going to concerts and traveling.

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