WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Music lovers are preparing to attend the 10th annual Red Ants Pants music festival in White Sulphur Springs. Headline performers this year include Taj Mahal; The Mavericks; Suzy Bogguss; The Steel Wheels; and Laney Lou & The Bird Dogs.
Festival founder Sarah Calhoun says the festival is not just about jamming out to music, but also raising money for the Red Ants Pants Foundation, which is dedicated to "fostering strength and self-reliance in women, in rural communities."
She explained, "This is a community-driven event and the whole city is rising up in the cow pasture, out there, and everybody pitches in and so there is a lot of pride being build over the years with having this festival.”
The Festival capped tickets to ensure safety for attendees this year, but Calhoun says it will still be a great feeling to see attendees back in the pasture: "It's a wonderful feeling and it has taken a lot of work over the past ten years, and every year we try to make it a little bit better of an experience for the town and for the festival attendees, and the artists, and the staff, volunteers and vendors,” said Calhoun.
And the festival doesn’t just help the Red Ants Pants Foundation - it's also a boost to businesses in town.
"The boost we get is huge,” said Rick Nelson, owner of Stageline Pizza (and also the mayor).
He added that the campers and trailers with different license plates rolling into town is a sight to see: "It's an incredible sight, it's a big boost to the town, the locals look forward to it every year.”
Nelson also looks at Calhoun with pride in her efforts of taken the festival far from its first year: “For Sarah to have taken this from what she did 11 years ago and people were thinking, 'Music in a cow pasture, how is that going to work?" To what it is now is an amazing thing, truly.”