Mountaintop Music: Festival on The Farm combines ‘stars’ and ‘sauce’

Mountaintop Music: Festival on The Farm combines ‘stars’ and ‘sauce’

Music and astronomy are getting together again this year. The Stars and Sauce star gazing party and music festival returns April 29-30 at the Farm in Eureka Springs. The two-day event offers camping, star gazing and what organizers promise will be some of the best music in Northwest Arkansas.

Joshua Bradshaw of Fayetteville says that the idea seemed natural to him.

“I got into astronomy and learned about ‘star parties’ and realized: A. We have a fantastic venue here in the Ozarks with really dark skies. B. No one had thought to marry star parties to a music festival. I am friends with the proprietor of The Farm as well as the Arkansauce guys. I pitched it to both of them and got yeses. Then I asked Explore Scientific to sponsor it and got another yes. And so [the Stars and Sauce festival] was born,” enthuses Bradshaw.

“We really wanted to be more family-friendly this year,” Bradshaw says. Kid’s activities will include a music class with Sarah Busch in which kids will learn to play a song on a recorder that they get to keep. There will also be a guided hike, art lessons, bubbles, games and more. Kids are also encouraged to dress up in costumes and just have fun. All activities for kids are free. Kids will also be welcome to view the stars with the grownups.

Mountaintop Music: Festival on The Farm combines ‘stars’ and ‘sauce’

“My main focus is trying to break down the barrier of entry to astronomy for people. So getting Explore Scientific to come out with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of telescopes, and a whole group of people to just show people the ropes is a great way to get adults and kids involved. I think it’s more important to get kids involved because now they get 20 more years to think about this than we got to.”

“In my opinion, it’s just a really good way to teach people about the night sky. Everyone that frequents music festivals is always talking about the stars. I thought I’d introduce them to people who are eager to teach them. Similarly, people who are into astronomy aren’t often seeking out festivals, but I was certain they would enjoy it. It just seemed like a good opportunity for those worlds to collide,” Bradshaw adds.

The Stars

“The main stage and the viewing area are completely separated, there’s no line of sight. So there’s no light pollution,” Bradshaw enthuses. “There will be roughly 20 telescopes [so] we’re literally turning The Farm into an observatory for the weekend.”

Explore Scientific, established in 2008, will provide the star gazing gear for the weekend.

For Stars and Sauce, Tyler Bowman says that festival-goers will get a view “of the moon, the planets, nebulae, galaxies, and all that wonderfulness,” using high-powered Dobsonian telescopes. Explore Scientific staff will be available to help viewers find points of interest or they can just use the telescopes to look around, Bowman adds. “We’re not going to be stingy with them.”

In addition to an array of telescopes, “we are going to be doing astrophotography as well. So I’ll be taking pictures through a telescope for everybody to see how just how that process works, because it is totally different,” Bowman says. “To me, it’s always a … joy to see someone’s smile or to hear the expression ‘Wow. Oh my goodness!’ when they see the world in this way.”

Patti Steel and her band play during the previous Stars and Sauce festival at The Farm in Eureka Springs. This year the music and stargazing festival starts with early shows and camping on April 28 and runs through the entire weekend. (Courtesy Photo)

“I think it’s kind of hard to grasp how powerful the telescopes are,” adds Ethan Bush of Arkansauce. “I had a couple of friends at the last one that walked up to go look through them, and I was a little busy and couldn’t do it. And they’re both dudes my age, they weren’t wide-eyed, little kids. But they came they came back like wide-eyed little kids. They were like, ‘Dude, you cannot believe what we just saw!’ And they are telling me how they were looking at the inside of the rings of Saturn and all this cool stuff.”

To keep the viewing area free of light pollution, Bradshaw says that people using headlamps should use the red light setting. No one will be allowed to enter the park after 10 p.m., so that headlights will not interfere with viewing.

The Sauce

Some of Northwest Arkansas’s favorite bands including Arkansauce, where the festival gets half of its name, will provide the soundtrack for viewing the universes around us.

“They’re bringing a tight-knit new set and playing four sets total,” Bradshaw explains. The group has shared a few videos to Facebook, including a toe-tapping cover of “I Can See Clearly Now,” to promote the festival. Bush, who plays mandolin and sings for Arkansauce, also remarks on the family-friendly vibe. “It’s just a unique opportunity. And while you know, music does go late, there’s not those all night long, 5 in the morning electronic acts like at most festivals these days,” Bush explains. “It just doesn’t seem as wild.

“It’s also got more of a friendly vibe than a lot of festivals. We’ve got lots of friends our age with kids in the area, that kind of what won’t travel to some festivals … Stars and Sauce is a little more mellow.”

Bush says that this year he’s looking forward to seeing Monk is King, “they’re one of my favorites. We just got to know them those guys over the last couple of years,” he says. “They’re really interesting and really unique.” He also mentions Ben Miller Band and Opal Agafia — “we’re always really excited to see her.” Also on the docket are Chucky Waggs, Country Jesus, 1 Oz. Jig, Reverend Pollard, Big Still River, Dirty Strings, Alyssa Galvan, Charlie Mellinger, Front Porch, Jenna and Friends, and there will be a jam set.

Camping at The Farm

Nick Gibson, with Explore Scientific, sets up a telescope at regional motorcycle rally. Explore Scientific will have numerous telescopes on hand for the Stars and Sauce festival April 29-30 at The Farm in Eureka Springs. (File Photo/Tony Reyes)

The Farm in Eureka Springs is a music venue with both primitive and RV camping spots available. According to their website, the venue and camping ground is located on “160 acres that backs up to Mark Twain National Forest.” There are “electric and water hook-ups available. There is general store as well as a shower/bathroom house onsite.”

Bradshaw adds “camping is included with all general admission tickets, whether it’s two-day or one-day. We don’t have any 30- or 50-amp hookups left, but we’ve got plenty of 110 power for people and RV spots for them to park in.” VIP tickets offer more of a glamping experience. For more information on camp site availability, check out For more information on The Farm, visit



Stars and Sauce

WHEN — April 29-30

WHERE — The Farm, 1 Blue Heron Lane, Eureka Springs

COST —$75 & up


FYI — To limit the amount of light pollution, patrons will not be permitted to check in after 10 p.m.

Categories: Family Friendly