Note: Garden City’s annual Tumbleweed Festival will light up Lee Richardson Zoo’s West Green this weekend with music, art, children’s shows and Flat Mountain Brewhouse beer gardens. This week, we’re featuring different performers leading up to the festival. Once the music starts on Friday, let us know who your favorites are at or @GCTelegram on Twitter.

Music has been a part of Sky Smeed for most of his life.

He started playing piano at five and guitar at 16, when he pulled together a garage band fueled by classic rock hits. So, when he moved away from home right after high school and lived in a lonely, old carriage house on the east coast, it made sense that he immediately started writing songs. Soon, his sister convinced him to write an album. Since then, he’s released six more.

“I started playing shows and it all just clicked and I’ve never really stopped since then. It’s just kind of snowballed and it continually keeps getting better,” Smeed said. “It just keeps on going.”

Sporting a sound rooted in classic country music, Smeed will perform at the Tumbleweed Festival for the first time this weekend.

Smeed’s shows boom with country and folk music with a “pretty healthy dose” of humor and fingerstyle guitar, he said. And he talks to the audience throughout the show, he said.

“My songs are pretty personal … I can really switch between humorous songs, sing-a-long-type stuff to really introspective, serious tunes. It’s kind of a roller coaster at times — a roller coaster of emotions, at least,” he said, laughing.

Today, Smeed travels across the U.S. and the U.K., playing a catalog of songs he’s built for almost 20 years. The Chanute native is now a new dad living in Lawrence, and is keeping closer to home, he said. A lot has changed since he was 19 and writing his first songs — moody and earnest — in an old house, he said. But what has stayed the same is his love of performing.

“The most important thing to me really is playing shows and making sure people leave happy. I like for my shows to be interactive and good-spirited and full of plenty of stories. That’s the main thing. It’s the best job I’ve had, to where people usually leave in a good mood…” Smeed said. “And that’s really the most important thing — the human connection.”

Sky Smeed will perform at 1:45 p.m. Sunday on the East Stage at the Tumbleweed Festival.

Festival wristbands are $20 in advance or $25 at the gate for adults and $15 in advance and $20 at the gate for kids ages 11 to 17. Kids under 10 get in free. All wristbands are good for the whole weekend and can be purchased at or in person at Dillons East, Dillons West, Garden City Arts, Patrick Dugan's, The Corner on Main, The Safari Shop, Family Bookhouse, Golden Plains Credit Union and High Plains Public Radio in Garden City, Dillons in Dodge City, Dillons and Golden Plains Credit Union in Liberal, and Golden Plains Credit Union in Ulysses. The entrance to the festival will be to the south of the zoo.


Contact Amber Friend at