More than 80 local bands perform at Provo music festival, growing sense of community

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Provo residents had the opportunity to hear live music from more than 80 local bands this past weekend at the Buzzards and Bees music festival.

“I just want people to not be able to walk through Provo or drive through Provo without being like, ‘what’s happening?’” the festival’s co-founder, Alex Vaughn, said.

The yearly festival, which was started by Vaughn and three others in 2018, took place in downtown Provo with 11 venues dotted throughout the area.

Sabrina Fairr performed at Java Junkie last weekend. More than 80 bands played at the Buzzards and Bees festival this year, more than any previous year. (Andrew Osborn)

“I think a great thing for the city is that a lot of events have to shut down Center Street, whereas this involves tons of businesses and doesn’t have to shut down the whole road. So it’s a really great compromise for the city. It’s great for the businesses downtown,” she said.

With performances at Java Junkie, Quiero Mas, Peace on Earth and many other venues, patrons wandered around Center Street, stopping periodically to listen to the local music.

“You see the city transform, which brings a sense of community and culture, which I think that a lot of people living in Utah can relate to. There’s a lot of beautiful art, a lot of beautiful things happening, but there isn’t a lot of noise around it. And I think that Buzzards and Bees just adds to the culture and the community of this place,” Jacob Vaughn said, Alex Vaughn’s husband.

Buzzards and Bees, which took place on Saturday, was preceded by a Friday night rave: “Goth Prom.”

“Goth Prom for me is monumental culturally for the city,” Alex Vaughn said.

Hundreds of Provo residents attended Goth Prom last Friday night. This party is a tradition that was started by Alex Vaughn’s sister in her college days. (Andrew Osborn)

The idea for Goth Prom, which took place at Velour Live Music Gallery, started with her sister, Alex Vaughn said, who threw similar parties while she was at college in Provo.

“It feels like I’m holding on to the Provo that I knew when I came to college here, and I think that actually has such a magic about it. It’s just a beautiful thing to see all of these young, wholesome people dressed so scary,” Alex Vaughn said.

Both Alex and Jacob Vaughn believe Provo is a perfect setting for events such as these.

“It’s such an eclectic group of people. You throw on some goth makeup, and all of the sudden you’re a part of the mass. You could tell there’s so many different people from different backgrounds, however, it’s totally cohesive,” Jacob Vaughn said.

Because Provo is such a college town, Alex Vaughn said she was surprised there were not more events like Goth Prom and Buzzards and Bees going on in Provo before.

“Then you have things like this. Like, where else are you going to see this?” Jacob Vaughn said as a group of more than 10 veiled women walked past, chanting a folk song.

Solringen, a folk choir group, performed at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church last weekend. The Buzzards and Bees music festival includes bands from many different types of genres. (Andrew Osborn)

Donning all black robes, the women were a part of folk choir group Solringen. The group has been a consistent presence at Buzzards and Bees throughout the years, Alex Vaughn explained as she uploaded a video of the passersby to the official Instagram account.

“I want people to show up and busk. I want people to come. I want magicians running up and down the street. Like I just want it to be a whole Halloween fest,” she said.

The weekend helped to offer a sense of community, one patron shared.

“It was a great event. It’s a fun way to gather the community through music and involve local businesses,” Livia DeMartini said.

DeMartini, who owns property in Provo and spent her college years in Provo, explained the event is a great way for people to get to know the town a little bit better.

“A little unity can go a long way, things like this help. It gets all the demographics together,” she said.

Regarding the future of Buzzards and Bees, Alex Vaughn hopes for it to continue on its current trajectory and wants to get even more businesses involved.

“Figuring out a way to have every business on this block involved, even if it’s not music, but like, you know, having a sale or having a costume contest, or something like a cakewalk … I just want this to be for everyone, even if you don’t like music,” she said.

Now that the festival is over, Alex Vaughn and the other cofounders are going to take a break from all their hard work.

“As soon as it’s over we go underground for months. We all talk about pros and cons, things that went well, things we want to change, but then we have radio silence for months,” she said.

Next spring the process of finding venues and bands will start anew, and if things work out like Alex Vaughn hopes they will, Buzzards and Bees will only get bigger.

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