Challis quadrupled in size last week, as it does for one weekend in August every year, for the Braun Brothers Reunion music festival.
This year's lineup offered music from multiple genres -- country, red dirt country, rock, Americana, roots rockin', Southern rock and a hint of reggae.
Steve Earle and the Dukes made their first BBR appearance -- somewhat of a dream come true for the four Braun sons. Before Earle took the stage, Cody Braun said getting Earle at their festival was something he and his brothers have always wanted to make happen. One can only imagine how Cody felt when Earle called him out on stage to play his fiddle on a tune. Earle told the crowd he'd never seen a fiddle until he moved away from Texas and landed in Nashville. Two of Cody's brothers joined Earle at a microphone.
Earle closed out Thursday night's set, playing his best-known songs and wrapping up his three-song encore with a version of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac" that had the crowd dancing and shouting. In Earle's famed "Galway Girl," the audience heard a mandolin, stand-up bass, fiddle, accordion, guitar and drums. The accordion player was so in tune with everything he blew bubbles with his gum as he played flawlessly.
At one point during his set, Earle took a big drink of water and hoisted his metal water bottle in the air.
"No single-use plastic on this tour," he shouted. "This is my water bottle." The younger Gary and Micky Braun were both frequently seen carrying their non-disposable bottles around, too. And, patriarch Muzzie Braun more than once touted the sale of environmentally friendly aluminum water bottles by Proud Source Water in Mackay on the festival grounds.
Earle, and most of the other musicians, chatted up the crowd and shared all sorts of stories during their sets. Earle gave major props to Guy Clark, saying Clark was the reason Earle was at BBR and was a successful musician.
"Guy Clark championed my songs when I got to Nashville," he remembered. Earle's latest album, released earlier this year, is named "Guy," to honor his mentor, whom he called "one of the greatest songwriters."
Earle conceded he didn't know why it had taken him so long to get on the BBR stage and thanked the Brauns for asking him to participate, especially because he got to go fishing while in Idaho.
Roger Clyne, of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, was another BBR first-timer. "Ask us back," he implored during his Thursday show.
Muzzie Braun chatted up the crowd throughout the hour-plus Braun Family show Saturday afternoon.
He told the audience he and his wife, JoAnn, were married at Sunbeam "population, us," before he busted into "Yankee Fork," a tune dedicated to their romance, courtship, marriage and paying tribute to "13 miles up the Yankee Fork in Idaho."
Cody and his fiddle were on stage throughout the family stretch, Micky was on bass guitar most of the time, Willy was playing the drums, or "tubs," as Muzzie called them. The two Garys -- Muzzie's brother and Muzzie's son -- played harmonica, guitar and percussion and sang.
The crowd loved Muzzie's work on "Homegrown Tomatoes," written by Guy Clark, perhaps played as an homage to Steve Earle's performance two days before.
Muzzie's brother Gary made sure the audience knew that Muzzie was the older of the two. They introduced a new Braun to the stage -- Archie, Gary's youngest son. Archie performed Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice."
The Brauns were on and off the stage all of the time at their namesake festival. Micky and his brother Gary shared the stage Saturday afternoon with Jeff Crosby and the Refugees.
"Jeff came out to Boston to see me for three days and we sat down and hung out and were going to write one song," Micky said, "we wrote about six." They performed one of those songs and both Idaho musicians gave props to one another when the tune ended.
This year's weather gave spectators and performers a break from some past hot, dry August shows. Cloud cover on Thursday kept temps lower than normal. Friday's rain and lightning caused only short delays and Saturday's heat got a break because a steady breeze blew.
The crowd sported all sorts of footwear -- but cowboy boots seemed the most popular. Of course there were hiking boots, flip flops, river sandals, tennies and loafers. There was no shortage of flannel or of T-shirts and sweatshirts sporting the names of countless bands, venues, bars, cities and events.
Cellphone cameras were constantly snapping away, preserving the memories and providing fodder for social media.
Tickets for Friday and Saturday shows sold out in advance while a few tickets were still up for grabs at the gate Thursday night. Ticket sales are capped at 3,500 because Braun family members have said they believe that's the maximum crowd that can be accommodated in Challis.
The Custer County Sheriff's Office reported a surprisingly quiet weekend, with no major law enforcement issues reported.