Open Stage returns at new venue

By Kacie Svoboda

Open Stage Returns — From left, local musicians Paul Larson, 2016 Steve Thorpe Award recipient, Wolf, Don Andersen and Chris Voyles jam together at the Hill City Arts Council Open Stage event. The 11th annual Open Stage promises to bring back many seasoned and first-time performers to the new venue High Country Guest Ranch’s Dakota Hall. [PN File Photo]


The 11th annual season of Hill City’s Open Stage will begin a new era of varied talent at the High Country Guest Ranch’s Dakota Hall on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m.

The sudden closing of the former venue the Chute Rooster Restaurant & Sports Bar precipitated this change, but the Hill City Arts Council (HCAC), is enthusiastic about the new partnership with High Country.

“We are sad to leave Chute Roosters, as we have made many great memories in the loft,” said HCAC executive director Cheryl Whetham. “However, we are excited to open a new chapter of Open Stage at High Country Guest Ranch.”

Though Open Stage has moved onto a different venue, the setup will be kept mostly the same. Admission will continue to be free with donations supporting HCAC’s educational initiatives and the organization’s annual scholarship program for Hill City High School students pursuing an arts field in college. Dan Dickey will return as the emcee and Crow Ridge Productions will again work to provide a great sound experience.

“They provide a great listening space and great sound technicians,” commented Open Stage performer Kim Plender.

In addition, the number of artists will still be limited, so that performances can be concluded by 10 p.m. Sign-up for everyone — from established performers to emerging talent — will be first come, first served and will start at 5:15 p.m.

“The variety of music genres is amazing,” explained Whetham. “The audience gets to listen to a variety of musicians and styles of music.  It never gets boring or repetitive.”

Though the number of performers will be roughly the same, the new venue will be able to hold nearly double the number of attendees as the Chute Rooster loft.

“The event can grow in size,” said Whetham. “We’ll be able to accommodate a larger crowd for the musicians to hone their craft.”

High Country will also be much more accessible to people with disabilities, with accessible restrooms and a ground-floor entrance through the High Country store.

Open Stage has become a favorite of both artists and audiences because the event provides a comfortable performance venue with an audience that comes to listen.

“It’s just such a good listening space,” explained Plender. “These people are there to hear music. Performing (at Open Stage) is just such a positive experience.”

The Open Stage series will continue on Jan. 28, Feb. 11 and 25, and March 11 and 25 at High Country, located off Deerfield Road just four miles west of Hill City. The doors will open at 5 p.m. For parking, attendees should follow the signs.

High Country will offer a themed buffet at a charge each evening from 5:30-7 p.m. or until food runs out. Beverages will also be available during Open Stage.

For more information about Open Stage, visit, follow Hill City Arts Council news and events on Facebook, visit or go to