‘I have her to thank for that love’
There are a lot of moving parts in the success of Guthrie’s River Ruckus, a country music festival that will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Guthrie Center this July.
Grant Sheeder and Adam Faucher, two longtime friends who grew up together in Guthrie Center, are the event’s founders. Both say the love and support they receive from their mothers — Merici Sheeder and Lori Faucher — is not something they take for granted. Like many on Mother’s Day, this Sunday, they will say thanks to two of their biggest supporters.
“I probably wouldn’t have even got started with the Ruckus if it wasn’t for her love of music,” Sheeder said of his mom, who was a music teacher in Guthrie Center for years. “I don’t personally know many people that can play the piano quite like her. I’m very jealous of that.”
Sheeder, 30, said his mom had him in piano lessons as a kid, but instead of practicing his notes, he found himself with other things to do.
“I wish I would have stuck it out, because I do enjoy hearing the piano being played well,” he said.
Merici Sheeder also sings very well, according to her son.
“I didn’t get that trait, unless I’ve had a few adult drinks, and even then, it’s only good in my head,” Sheeder joked.
Sheeder, who has two younger sisters, Becky and Emily, says he’s lucky his mom shared her talents with him and helped him gain an appreciation for music.
“Without music, life is pretty boring, no matter what genre you listen to,” he said. “So I have her to thank for that love.”
Adam Faucher, who will turn 30 in June, said the older he gets, the more thankful he is to have his mom’s support — not only during the River Ruckus, but all year long.
“It’s humbling going from thinking you know everything to realizing there’s still so much to learn from her,” he said.
Faucher said there are a lot of things the two have in common.
“Contrary to what many might believe, our love of Natural Light (beer) is only a small portion,” he said.
He’s most thankful for everything she’s taught him about the Catholic faith, he added.
Faucher, who is a computer engineer at John Deere in Johnston, said it’s tough to narrow down what he loves the most about his mom. Lori, along with husband David, raised three sons, including Logan and Blake, who both serve in the U.S. Navy, and daughter Lilly, who resides in Kansas City and plays a big role in the River Ruckus success.
“There are many things Mom has done for me and my family over the years,” Adam said, recalling all his siblings arriving home from college to visit at the same time. “We might as well have been bulldozers running through our parents’ house.”
It continues when they return home today.
“Somehow she still loves us through it,” he said.
Both Grant Sheeder and Adam Faucher know their mothers enjoy Guthrie’s River Ruckus.
“I think both of our moms are kind of like us in the sense that they enjoy when the Ruckus is over,” Sheeder said. “There are a ton of behind-the-scenes stuff to organize and keep an eye on leading up and throughout the festival. Mom and Lori help keep the gears moving without us worrying about it.”
Faucher said his mom’s favorite part of the Ruckus, along with the acts, is the people.
“She’s pretty easy to talk to, so chatting with the fans is no problem,” he said. “I think they enjoy seeing all the different types of people roll through the gates for the Ruckus.”
It’s true — Merici Sheeder and Lori Faucher enjoy the people the most and couldn’t be more proud of their sons for organizing this event in their hometown each summer.
Merici and Lori have been friends since they were little girls, first attending first grade and church together. Their mothers, Rita Halsey and Leona Troshynski, both of Guthrie Center, also are longtime friends.
Both mothers — who, like their sons, graduated together from high school in Guthrie Center in 1983 — recall when their young sons started talking about the River Ruckus. The event brings some of country music’s top stars and thousands of fans to the Guthrie County Fairgrounds each year.
“We thought it was wonderful,” said Merici, who owns and operates Sheeder Cloverleaf Dairy west of Guthrie Center with her husband, Russell. “We knew it would be a lot of work, but we were willing to help.”
“We didn’t think it would get this big 10 years ago,” added Lori.
Each year, the mothers say they get more excited to hear what artists are coming. They are usually among the first to know.
“Grant gets so excited, and he knows I can keep a secret,” Merici said.
“Adam is more tight-lipped, or just doesn’t tell me,” Lori grinned, still hoping to see Alan Jackson on stage some year.
Lori said she was really excited about Toby Keith, who headlined the 2017 Ruckus, and is a huge Lee Brice fan.
“Me too,” said Merici. “Lee Brice and Chris Young, and Thomas Rhett was really good. Eric Church was awesome.”
Lori, who works at Peoples Trust & Savings Bank in Guthrie Center, buys all the artists’ CDs so she can learn all the songs before the Ruckus, adding it’s more fun for those who can sing along.
The weekend of the Ruckus, the mothers say they prepare to help with whatever is needed.
“We report,” Merici said.
“We pretty much do whatever they ask us,” Lori added. “Fold T-shirts, get merchandise ready, whatever is needed.”
People are always asking the pair questions.
“We never know the answers,” Merici said. “Adam and Grant are really good at answering their phones.”
Merici and Lori believe their sons have been successful with River Ruckus because they, like their mothers, have a great sense of humor.
“You have to be able to take the criticism along with the good,” Merici said. “They always address things and try to make it better. You can’t be afraid of people, and you have to be able to talk to everybody.”
Merici said that at first, you look at the artists as up on a pedestal, but soon you realize they’re people just like everyone else.
“It’s just fun to meet them,” she said. “They have a good time, and we hope they all have a good time when they are here and are treated like they like to be.”
The Ruckus moms say they look forward to helping with the event every year.
“Some years I think I hardly work,” Lori said. “Last year, we worked a lot.”
“I like working, and I like seeing all the people,” Merici said.
Every year, when the cars and campers start coming into town, they get excited.
“I’m always amazed at all the states that are represented and all the people that come,” Merici said. “It’s amazing; it’s really quite a sight.”
The Sheeders and Fauchers all are excited for the 10th annual River Ruckus July 26–28 with country star Jake Owen as the headliner. Others entertaining on the big stage are Chris Janson, LANCO, Walker McGuire, 38 Special, Joe Diffie, Sammy Kershaw and Collin Raye. Beau Braswell and Cody Hicks will kick things off in the campgrounds Thursday night. Tickets and campsites are available at www.guthriesriverruckus.com.
“It’s a blast every year,” Merici Sheeder said. “It’s been quite a ride.”