The Festival at Sandpoint returns for its 39th season By Abigail Thorpe | Photo By Jamie Sedlmayer
Lights, sound, action! Sandpoint’s favorite summer event is back with an impressive lineup for its 39th season as a big small-town event. Each year as summer returns to Sandpoint and we brace ourselves for a busy tourist season, locals and visitors alike anticipate one of Sandpoint’s favorite annual traditions: The Festival at Sandpoint. A big fish in a small pond, The Festival annually brings a celebrated collection of nationally recognized artists to small-town America, for an event that draws not only locals but is a destination for visitors regionally and nationally.
This year marks The Festival’s 39th season as a beloved local event that unites audiences in an intimate outdoor setting, bringing the best of the big city to the lawns of Sandpoint’s War Memorial Field. Get ready, because this season is one you won’t want to miss, with a slate of memorable headliners and a return of the favorite Festival traditions we all love.
“The Festival is unique in the sense that as a nonprofit we bring large acts to a small town in North Idaho, which is rare for a rural area. We can accomplish this with immense support from our community. There is a sense of pride and ownership in The Festival at Sandpoint and its community,” says Executive Director Ali Baranski.
Traditionally, The Festival hosts eight different concerts during its roughly week-long period, but after the success of nine concerts in last year’s return to the stage after a year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year The Festival is hosting 10 different concerts from July 28 to August 7, and the lineup promises to impress. Headliners include The Beach Boys, KALEO, Lindsey Stirling, Gregory Alan Isakov and Pink Martini, with a host of other impressive artists. Throughout the 11-day festival, The Revivalists, Chris Janson and Mt. Joy will also take the stage, with the Spokane Symphony closing out The Festival along with the annual wine tasting event.
“It has been so exciting to see our community’s excitement for the high-caliber acts we have lined up for this season. This season’s lineup is like no other, and we can’t wait for Festival Season!” adds Baranski.
Last year’s return of The Festival was a big success with a record number of ticket sales—which The Festival is on track to beat this year. “Last year came with some trial and error, however, we received immense support from our staff, board of directors, donors, volunteers and community that allowed us to have the time and resources we needed to get The Festival back on its feet,” explains Baranski, who served her first season as executive director in 2021. “In my first year as the executive director, I was excited to learn about what it takes to put on this iconic festival. I learned so much last year from our volunteers and crew, and it was incredible to see so many people come together to continue to support this special tradition in our small town, despite new challenges.”
Just like last year, food and drink vendors will be returning to Festival Street in the fenced-in portion of Lakeview Park, and they will be offering both in-person debit and credit card ordering and mobile orders through the Noble app. “This year we have seven food booths returning and one new booth called The Cajun Kettle!” says Baranski. To give everyone a bit more space, the bar will be moving to the lakeside concessions building this year, and Adia Burton is welcomed as the new Festival Street chairperson this year, responsible for coordinating all of the food booths.
For those experienced veterans of The Festival who know one of its key appeals is the ability to bring your own beverages and food—you’re in luck. Following tradition, The Festival will still be allowing attendees to bring in their own food, beverages (including alcohol) and chairs and blankets. Keep in mind no glass (except wine bottles) is allowed, so plan accordingly.
Since last season, The Festival has added two full-time hires and five summer interns, allowing them to frontload a lot of the planning and giving them more time to fine-tune the systems that make for a smooth and enjoyable Festival season.
Paul Gunter has joined the team as the full-time production and education manager, making venue planning easier and also creating new educational programs to share with the community, like the Pre-K Outreach Program that takes Paul to various local preschools to teach music. “We feel lucky to be able to give back to the area with free education programs, economic impact, and access to incredible concert experiences,” says Baranski.
The Festival is not only active during its annual concert summer concert series, in fact its education exposes up to 1,000 youth to no-cost music education opportunities year-round.
Local businesses benefit from the influx of visitors, as many stay overnight, eat at the local restaurants and shop the downtown Business District. As a nonprofit, The Festival at Sandpoint and its supporters not only bring incredible performances and music education opportunities to this town, enhancing the cultural life of the community, they also support local businesses and provide a boost to the economy. Every summer season The Festival brings in over $3 million in direct economic impact to the Sandpoint community as visitors flock to the concerts, 52 percent of whom are from out of state.
Throwing such an impressive event takes a lot of work from both employees and volunteers, and The Festival is always looking for volunteers for everything from bartending and checking tickets to selling merchandise and more. “Locals should consider volunteering and give back to the community in a fun environment and while enjoying a concert!” encourages Baranski. The Festival asks that individuals interested in volunteering fill out the volunteer application available on the website; the volunteer chair committee will then make contact with applicants to determine placement and details.
Overall this year, concert venues have seen a record number of sales, as concertgoers are eager to get out and return to doing the things they love, and The Festival at Sandpoint is no different. “People are eager to gather and do things they love post-pandemic, and we are excited to see our Canadian visitors returning this summer. Our impressive lineup is already resulting in great ticket sales, and we have heard a lot of excitement from the community,” explains Baranski.
Tickets are selling fast—particularly for some of the most popular performances, so make sure to book your tickets early. The Festival recommends buying tickets directly from the website (they use ETix as their ticketing platform), as many ticket resellers online are selling shows for higher than market value.
To purchase tickets, see the full lineup and learn more about The Festival at Sandpoint, visit FestivalatSandpoint.com, and get ready to enjoy another memorable season at Sandpoint’s beloved summer concert series!