UTOPiAns Bid Farewell to Four Sisters Ranch

By Renee Dominguez
Photojournalist

I would say that I am an experienced music festival goer. I have seen my share of festivals, everywhere from several electronic festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Sun City Music Festival in El Paso, Euphoria Music and Camping Festival in Austin and Decadence in a small town in Arizona to the all genre-catered festival, Austin City Limits. Attending UTOPiA Fest in Utopia, Texas, however, was a completely unique experience.

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Pink arrows were the only sign that signaled the way to the ranch and the festival. Upon arrival to Utopia, Texas, we lost GPS service and decided to take a chance and follow the pink arrows to see where they would lead to. Photo by Renee Dominguez. 

For those of you who don’t know, Utopia is a small town a little less than three hours away from Austin. Before going to this festival, I had no idea what or where Utopia even was. Upon research, I learned that the last census from 2010 recorded that 227 people live in the small town beautifully cuddled by hills located between Lost Maples State Natural Area and Gardner State Park. Talk about small town! Driving into town, we lost all Wi-Fi and cell service.

Every year since 2008, the small town grows in size and welcomes about 2,000 people that come together to celebrate music, art and each other. The festival goers set up camp and call the 1,000-acre Four Sisters Ranch home for three days. UTOPiA Fest was founded by Travis Sutherland who wanted to bring the beauty of music festivals to the small town without all the madness and claustrophobia. Sutherland placed a maximum capacity at 2,000 people. Ages range from itty bitty babies to veteran lifers. Attending this year’s festival was bittersweet for most attendees. Sutherland announced earlier this year that this would be the festival’s last year at this location.

“It’s sad but, you know, I’m happy for him,” 3-year UTOPiAn, Darlene said about Sutherland’s decision to change location. Rumors floated around the festival that Sutherland was planning on expanding the festival to increase the maximum capacity. Another rumor was that the new location was going to be in Fredericksburg. Whatever the true reason behind UTOPiA Fest’s relocation, Sutherland promised to keep the essence of UTOPiA the same from when it first began. Posted on the Four Sisters Ranch’s Facebook page is a message from Sutherland stating that the festival’s “quality, affordability, interaction with nature, and intimacy, will never change.”

Although it was short lived, my experience at UTOPiA was one of my best times at a music festival. The incredibly talented music acts were lively, uniquely their own and perfectly complimented the diverse and welcoming vibe of the festival. I’m very grateful to have gotten the chance to attend UTOPiA Fest for its last year at the Four Sisters Ranch. The views were breathtaking, but the atmosphere of the festival is what really took my breath away and secured my spot at next year’s festival, wherever that may be.

Featured image by Renee Dominguez. 

Asia Daggs

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