Washboard Willy: The Joyful One-Man Band at Colorado State Fair

Discover Larry Hiskett's musical charm at Pueblo's annual event.

by Nouman Rasool
Washboard Willy: The Joyful One-Man Band at Colorado State Fair
© Washboard Willy/youtube

At this year's Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, a singular rhythm resounds, bringing wide smiles and setting feet in motion. Larry Hiskett, better known as Washboard Willy, is the delightful one-man band responsible for this joyous reverberation.

Armed with his uniquely crafted washboard, cowbells, percussion blocks, and more, Hiskett brings a unique sound that captures the hearts of young and old alike. With a mission to spread happiness through music, Washboard Willy is a standout entertainer at the fair.

Every performance, whether for a single individual or a crowd of 10,000, is delivered with the same zest and fervor. "It’s all about entertaining the audience and making people happy,” shared the 74-year-old Hiskett.

“Music is vibrational therapy. It has the power to elicit a range of emotions — from tears to laughter”.

Hiskett's Musical Evolution and 'Rocko'

Hiskett's journey into music began during his formative years in Ellinwood, Kansas, where his passion for percussion was nurtured by his educators.

Despite later training as a landscape architect, a turn of events in his 30s realigned him with his true calling. Today, accompanying him is “Rocko,” a custom-made cart that houses instruments and a speaker. Kids are often treated to instruments from “Rocko” during performances, allowing them to join in on the fun.

Though a resident of Florida, Hiskett’s love for travel and music has taken him across the U.S. and beyond. The Colorado State Fair, however, holds a special place in his heart. "There’s something about the Colorado air, feeling, and people,” he remarked on his second appearance at the event.

Last year, aiming to inspire the next generation, Hiskett penned “Willy’s Wonders”. This interactive book encourages readers to engage with music, emphasizing its delightful and fun essence. “I just like to show that music is fun. You can have fun with it,” Hiskett concluded, reminding us all of the simple joys in life.