Music Festivals

Meet the Byers Kids Who Got a Free Pass to Riot Fest

Some unlikely VIPs rolled into the back gate of Riot Fest on Friday, driven in a chartered bus from their high school in Byers, Colorado. In addition to the easy entrance and free ride, the young music fans, all teenagers, got free passes to the entire weekend-long festival courtesy of Riot Fest itself.

Why? Put simply, for being from Byers, the small Colorado town that was originally slated to host Riot Fest, before permitting issues forced the festival to find a new location. the Originally disappointed that getting to see so many world-class bands was snatched away from them, the pack of young fans wound up with a trip to Denver and a free ride on the Riot Fest express.

See also: A Day in the Life of a Riot Fest Carny

The whole thing started after Byers High School teacher Armond Barrows treated the students to a visit from Jeremy Scheuch, creative director for Riot Fest. By all accounts the students were thrilled that Scheuch came to talk to them and that Riot Fest was going to happen right down the street.

Their excitement soon turned to disappointment (and a good bit of confusion), according to Paul Nelson, 16, when plans to host the festival in Byers began to fall apart.

"(Some residents) were angry about traffic and marijuana," says Nelson. "They were afraid it was bring in satanic qualities."

Before the teens could say "hail Satan" their dream of walking down the street to one of the biggest music festivals of the year evaporated. A mad scramble ensued with Riot Fest eventually finding a home at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver some 45 miles away - not exactly the casual stroll the Byers contingent had been expecting.

But according to Madison Cooklin, it wasn't long before Barrows informed his students that, somehow, Riot Fest would get them to the festival. It did just that, chartering a bus for all three days of the festival to take Byers Residents back and forth, free of charge.

Cooklin is succinct about her praise of how Riot Fest handled the whole ugly incident.

"It was very nice of them."

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Oakland Childers has been a music journalist since he was sixteen.