The Fifth Annual Chico Wildflower Music Festival
By Kayla Anderson
Photo by Doug Churchill
As the flowers start to bloom, music will also be flourishing at the fifth annual Wildflower Music Festival on April 22. The family-friendly event features an all-day lineup of musical guests, kids’ activities, jump houses, a petting zoo, arts and crafts and more. The annual Chico gathering benefits Wildflower Open Classroom, a tuition-free public charter school for kindergarten through
“The idea of the festival was brought up by parents at the school and the director (Tom Hicks) five years ago. They didn’t want to do the normal fundraisers that all the other schools do, so they thought, why not put on a music festival? It wasn’t successful the first year but we stuck with it and it’s grown. This year is looking to be our best one yet,” says event volunteer Colleen Taylor, whose three boys attend Wildflower Open Classroom.
“None of us get paid. We do it because it’s fun and we love our kids’ school,” she adds.
The Wildflower Music Festival was held at the Chico Elks Lodge until Greg Amaral suggested they move it to his field on the end of Normal Street. Taylor calls it the “field of dreams” due to its ideal size for a school-benefit festival.
“In the beginning, it was a tiny school carnival thing, and then it was like, let’s try to get The Mother Hips,” said Taylor. The beloved local band soon responded, happy to come back to its hometown to benefit the charter school.
“Usually we have it on Mother’s Day since The Mother Hips have been headlining the last few years, but this year we changed it to Earth Day,” says Taylor.
Doug Churchill first attended the Wildflower Music Festival in 2015 when he was asked to photograph it. “My favorite act was the Easy Leaves – kind of alt country style, they are excellent musicians with great stage presence and songs.”
Churchill’s two daughters have attended Wildflower Open Classroom since 2013. “I think the Wildflower Music Festival is a fantastic fundraiser for Wildflower Open Classroom. It allows the community as whole to come together and enjoy beautiful music and tasty food.”
The Wildflower Music Festival offers a tiered pricing structure, and in the first three weeks of the 2017 festival presale, 150 tickets were issued. In the tiered structure, the highest rate for a single adult ticket is $40, and kids 12 and under are free. The festival sells upwards of 1,000 tickets to concert-goers who can view the rotating lineup of musicians from noon to 8pm on the main stage.
The festival will also feature at least 20 merchandise booths, five food vendors, a Sierra Nevada beer garden, a massage area run by Wildflower School moms, crafts, lawn games, jump houses and a silent auction.
In the spirit of Earth Day, this is a totally waste-free festival with Klean Kanteen cups to drink out of. Although free parking is available, people are encouraged to bike to the event. “This event brings a fun, Chico family crowd and a happy, positive vibe,” says Taylor.
2017 Wildflower Music Festival lineup:
Noon-1 pm: Kyle Williams
Born in Tulsa, Okla., Williams spent many of his formative years in Paradise. As a singer-songwriter who has performed locally for more than a decade, he is known for his rich melodies and relatable song-writing.
1-2 pm: Loki Miller Band
Offering up “old-fashioned entertainment done the old-fashioned way,” these Chico musicians delight crowds with country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and classic hits.
2-3 pm: Jeff Pershing Band
Radiating a playful and positive energy, this band keeps the crowd moving with its mix of rock, funk, jazz, Afro pop, blues and reggae paired with uplifting lyrics. Even non-dancers have been known to bust a groove to the Jeff Pershing Band.
3-3:30 pm: The Mother Hips special acoustic set
Playing rock music for more than 25 years, the band started jamming together when they attended Chico State University and lived off-campus in Bradley Hall. They played at local parties and clubs before getting noticed by major record labels. Now based in San Francisco, this popular local band jumped at the chance to play the Wildflower Music Festival and has a special acoustic set planned for the kids.
3:30-4:30 pm: Surrogate
Immersed in the Chico music scene in various ways for a while now, the members of Surrogate draw their inspiration from “the introspective indie bands of the ‘90s and 2000s.” This alternative indie band offers classic melodies accompanied with a guitar-driven sound for swaying side-to-side shoegazers.
4:30-5:45 pm: Junior Toots
Originally from Jamaica, Junior Toots is the son of living legend Toots Hibbert of Toots and The Maytals. Growing up in the presence of his dad’s band rehearsals made him also want to entertain people, so he migrated to the United States to live with his mother when he was a teen. He learned how to dance, rap and sing, releasing his first single in 1989. Now on his own label, Junior Toots delivers reggae, R&B and hip-hop all in one package to Rastafarian-loving folks.
6-8 pm: The Mother Hips main set
Coming off of the Noisepop 25 tour and three nights at a snowy Aleyeska resort, The Mother Hips return to the Wildflower Music Festival to delight an all-ages crowd and dedicated fans with their signature rock tunes.