“Uff dah” isn’t in the dictionary, but everybody knows it. It’s the phrase you use when you’re startled half to death. It’s when you melt into bed after a long, hard day. It’s when your favorite athlete takes an unexpected blow.
“Uff da” is a catch-all for life’s many surprises. And so, it is the perfect name for a surprisingly large music festival in the tiny town of Wilsall.
“It’s a colorful word for a colorful event,” explains Larry Lovely of the Ringling 5, a group that celebrates their rural lifestyle and Norwegian heritage through song.
Billing themselves as “ranchers who will change everything you thought you knew about ranching,” the Ringling 5 has been performing since the early ‘70s. Their music is insightful and often humorous, with tracks such as “Sheep Shearer’s Lament” and “Cow Sortin’ Blues.” After five decades of performances, the 2020 shutdown left Lovely and the rest itching to get back on stage. More than that, he says, the Ringling 5 was eager to help the local entertainment industry get back on its feet.
“Coming off COVID, musicians and people in the business were struggling. There had been no concerts in over a year,” Lovely explains. “What we wanted was to bring live music to all ages at a reasonable price.”
In 2021, the inaugural “Uff Da Fest” doubled the population of Wilsall. This year, Lovely expects the second annual event to be a hit as well. Two stages will allow for nonstop music. (As one band finishes, another begins.) There will be food and beverage vendors, as well as merchandise for sale. The night before Uff Da Fest, the Build a Better Wilsall Foundation will hold their annual fundraiser, with a prime rib dinner, auction, and big-screen showing of a Western at the rodeo grounds.
“It’s a great little town,” says Lovely of Uff Da Fest’s venue.
Importantly, the music festival is family- friendly. In fact, attendees sixteen and younger will be admitted for free.
“In rural Montana, live music is usually found in bars,” Lovely explains. “We wanted this to be an event for everyone.”
Uff Da is for all Montana. You need not be a “Norwegian stud” to enjoy.