SHERIDAN — Organizers of the upcoming 2021 Celebrate the Arts Music in the Park at Ucross hope the community event will relieve the stress of the past year.

“Music has the ability to be the connector of communities,” said Sarah Sample, Sheridan-based songwriter and singer who will perform Sunday at Ucross as part of the event. 

Many people had to stay home and give up traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic, dampening spirits, said Ucross President and Executive Director Sharon Dynak. The event comes at the right time when people have had to relearn how to spend time together due to the challenges of COVID-19.

“The event is an opportunity to get away from the concerns of the world,” said Stephen Jimenez, executive producer of public programs at Ucross.

Music in the Park aims to do just that: float away from stress in a way that only Wyoming knows how to do. Driving in from Highway 14, the land opens up to rolling mountains and hills and vast skies

Jimenez describes Wyoming as magical and, unlike city landscapes, a true escape that feels like a vacation. Many creatives find solace and inspiration in Wyoming and channel it into their art.

“There’s an outdoor element to Wyoming. Between the public and the city, there’s a wildlife balance,” Sample said of her song, Redwing, which will be one of the songs she performs at the event. “You can see bald eagles, antelope, deer and all sorts of creatures — there’s a world of balance in Wyoming.”

Sample, who came to Wyoming to focus on her art, is inspired by Wyoming’s wilderness. Wyoming has a lot of open space, free of clutter. Having open and beautiful spaces creates open space in her head to explore vulnerability, memories and other hard-to-explain experiences, she said.

Sample said musicians, especially small ones, struggled in the past year, as most of their revenue is earned through touring. With longstanding local support as a staple in the Sheridan community, Sample said coming to local events gives smaller musicians a chance to share their craft and their joy of music through performance — a heartwarming experience, artists said.

“Artists have a special way of communicating with the world,” Jimenez said.

Paintings, drawings, mixed media and photography from past and current residents at Ucross will be on display for visitors to see. Over the last few years, Ucross has accumulated a wealth of material from different artists, some of which will contribute to an art giveaway. Jimenez said this is Ucross thanks to the community and a way to give back.

This will be one of the first large events Ucross has hosted since pandemic-related shut downs. During that time, Ucross had a virtual spotlight series where they continued to support artists.

Dynak said they are expecting a couple hundred people to show up, but they are prepared for more people if their expectations are exceeded. Local food trucks, Bonafide and Stoked Pizza will serve food during the bluegrass concert.

Ucross will have its two gardens and the chapel open for visitation, as well.

The free event will be held at Ucross from 4-6:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Attendees are asked to bring chairs, blankets and a friend.

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