In 2007, founding members of the Lookout Arts Quarry purchased land in Lookout ripe with swimming holes, lush flora and fauna and a huge hill that runs through the center of the property. The founders walked the grounds and imagined the magical things they could do to help bring to the area.
Somebody suggested an offroad soapbox derby as a final hurrah before summer came to a close. The idea stuck, but the dream started with just five participants, a small circus show and a couple of bands providing entertainment on the lone day of the race 10 years ago, creating a shell for something greater in the future.
That race now is a three-day festival called Sh’Bang, one of the area’s largest and certainly more extravagant music and entertainment festivals. This year’s Sh’Bang, Sept. 8-10, is expected to be attended by 1,000 people and feature 55 bands and 50 performers across five stages.
“A lot of really good people and hearts are behind it,” said Clay Mazing, with Sh’Public Relations. “It comes at the perfect time in September.”
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The soapbox derby is still the main event, and races kick off at noon Sept. 9 before culminating in a “Final Death Heat,” followed by the awards ceremony. Soapboxes must meet the requirements of the event, including being gravity powered, have a braking and steering device and at least three wheels that touch the ground.
Prizes are given out for the best style and costumes, the most creative engineering, the most spectacular crash and the fastest and slowest times.
Later that night there will be the all-star Sh’Bang Circus Extravaganza, and the following day there will be an exploding aerial piñata.
Mazing said what sets Sh’Bang apart from other festivals is the focus on circus and theater arts. There are seven different zones on the property, including a two-story saloon, a huge cedar main stage and a floating dock stage, where you can swim and listen to “chill” music.
“We strive to be very eclectic and have something for everyone,” Mazing said.
With so many people attending, Sh’Bang is offering free parking for carpooling — four people in a regular-size car and six or more in an oversize vehicle. Bikes, scooters and motorcycles all park for free as well.
Like most festivals, camping overnight is allowed, but Sh’Bang encourages bringing ear plugs if you plan to get a good night’s sleep. The festival is also rain or shine.
Early-bird tickets have sold out, but advance full-weekend passes are still available for $140 ($25 for youth 15 and younger and $60 for senior 65 and older).
Children are encouraged to attend; however, dogs are not allowed. Alcohol will not be served on site, and Sh’Bang asks for discretion when it comes to your personal choices.