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Midsummer Melodic Memories

Where music, mountains and merriment collide

By Damen Rodriguez


The Festival at Sandpoint is an eagerly awaited annual extravaganza that draws music enthusiasts from far and wide. As the summer sun blankets the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, the air fills with melodious notes, and the festival transforms into a vibrant celebration of talent, community and the local flair. So, get ready to embark on a whimsical journey as we delve into the delightful highlights of the highly anticipated 2023 Festival at Sandpoint.

Prepare to be swept away by the sheer magic and magnetism of this year’s festival. With a lineup that spans the musical spectrum and appeals to diverse tastes, Festival at Sandpoint caters to the inner maestro in all of us. From legends of the stage to rising stars, the six-day event promises an unforgettable array of performances that will leave you humming long after the final note. As you sway to the rhythm of the music, allow the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains to captivate your senses. The festival's stunning setting creates an enchanting ambiance that heightens the spellbinding allure of the performances by the likes of: Train, Gary Clark Jr., REO Speedwagon, The String Cheese Incident, Brit Floyd, Ashley McBryde, The Princess Bride in Concert and local favorite—Michael Franti & Spearhead.

The 2023 Festival at Sandpoint proudly showcases an eclectic lineup that promises to captivate audiences. Prepare for a harmonious medley of genres, ensuring there is something for every discerning ear. Brace yourself for the spellbinding sounds of classical symphonies, the sultry notes of jazz, the soulful strums of folk, and the electrifying beats of blues and beyond. This is a musical mosaic that transcends boundaries and embraces the rich tapestry of artistic expression. Beyond the music, the Festival at Sandpoint thrives on fostering a sense of community. Local vendors grace the festival grounds, offering delectable culinary delights, refreshing beverages, and crafts that encapsulate the region's vibrant cultural heritage. As you wander through this kaleidoscope of flavors and creativity, relish the chance to connect with fellow festival-goers, forging friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

The Festival at Sandpoint isn't just an affair for music aficionados—it's a jubilant playground for the whole family. Recognizing the importance of nurturing a love for the arts in the younger generation, the festival hosts a delightful array of activities and workshops tailored specifically for children. From whimsical face painting to instrument petting zoos that ignite youthful curiosity, young attendees can embark on a musical adventure of their own, exploring their creative potential and discovering the joy of harmonies. The festival's impact extends far beyond its immediate festivities through its dedicated community outreach programs. By organizing workshops, masterclasses and performances in local schools, the Festival at Sandpoint aspires to inspire and educate young musicians, cultivating a deep-rooted love for music and the arts in the next generation. Through these initiatives, the festival leaves an indelible imprint on the community, ensuring that the symphony of music continues to thrive for years to come.

The Festival at Sandpoint is firmly committed to preserving the pristine beauty of its surroundings. Embracing sustainable practices, the organizers prioritize minimizing the event's ecological footprint. From recycling initiatives to the use of eco-friendly materials, the festival strives to set a shining example of responsible event management, inspiring attendees to harmoniously contribute to the protection of the environment. In harmony with the serene natural surroundings, the Festival at Sandpoint encourages attendees to be mindful of their own ecological footprint and inspires a collective commitment to the protection of nature.

I had the opportunity to speak with Ali Baranski, the executive director of the Festival at Sandpoint, who provided valuable insights into this year's festival. Ali oversees the operations, programming and overall health of the organization, ensuring that the festival continues to thrive. When asked about what she would like people to know about this year's festival, Ali expressed her excitement for celebrating the 40th anniversary and emphasized the opportunity to gather and celebrate music, community, and the beauty of North Idaho. She noted that ticket sales and sellouts have been record-breaking, underscoring the importance of getting tickets early.

With regard to the number of attendees expected, Ali anticipates over 30,000 guests will attend the 2023 summer performance series, making it a record-breaking year for the festival. The growing support from the local community has been overwhelming, with positive feedback about the lineup and increased capacity due to improved safety measures. This has made the more popular performances accessible to a greater number of individuals in the community.

The 2023 Festival at Sandpoint is a harmonious symphony of unforgettable performances, vibrant community connections, and a celebration of music set against the backdrop of awe-inspiring natural beauty. With its diverse lineup and unwavering dedication to fostering artistic appreciation, the festival stands as a testament to the transformative power of music in uniting people.

As the Festival at Sandpoint approaches, anticipation builds among music enthusiasts from across the region, eager to indulge in a sensational lineup featuring a captivating mix of genres and artists. From renowned orchestras that will transport you to new stars whose talent will leave you mesmerized, the stages at the Festival at Sandpoint are poised to come alive with an electrifying energy that will reverberate through your soul. Picture this: You find yourself seated on a blanket under the starlit sky, surrounded by the majestic mountains and the shimmering waters of Lake Pend Oreille. The music begins, and the atmosphere becomes charged with anticipation. The timeless melodies of a classical symphony soar through the air, intertwining with the gentle breeze. The audience is spellbound, transported to a realm where time stands still, and worries fade away.

The Festival at Sandpoint provides a vibrant tapestry of sounds that captures the essence of the local culture and global rhythms. You might find yourself swaying to the infectious beats of a lively jazz band, tapping your feet to the soulful strains of a blues guitar, or immersing yourself in the rich storytelling of folk ballads. The festival embraces the diversity of musical expression, ensuring that there is something for every ear to savor. Beyond the melodies, the festival grounds come alive with a bustling energy that showcases the vibrant community of Sandpoint. Local vendors offer an enticing array of culinary delights, from mouthwatering farm-to-table creations to international flavors that ignite your taste buds. Sip on a refreshing huckleberry-infused beverage or sample handcrafted delicacies that pay homage to the region's bountiful harvest. As you wander through the vendor stalls, you'll discover unique crafts and artworks that celebrate the local artisans, adding an extra touch of creativity to your festival experience.

One of the festival's true gems is its dedication to nurturing the love of music in the younger generation. The organizers have crafted a delightful array of activities and workshops tailored specifically for children, transforming the event into a family friendly extravaganza. From interactive musical performances designed to ignite young imaginations to hands-on workshops where budding musicians can try their hand at different instruments, the festival offers a world of discovery for young hearts and minds.

When asked about what sets the Festival at Sandpoint apart from other music festivals, Ali emphasized that being a nonprofit organization dedicated to music education and generating regional economic impact sets the festival apart, aside from the stellar beauty the location provides. She expressed gratitude for the community ownership of the event, the hundreds of volunteers, and the contributions from local families and businesses that make a festival of this caliber possible in rural North Idaho.

The impact of the Festival at Sandpoint doesn't end with the final notes of the last performance. The festival's commitment to community outreach is woven into its very fabric. Through educational programs, workshops, and performances in local schools, it aims to ignite a lifelong passion for music and the arts among the youth. By nurturing and supporting young talent, the festival ensures that the symphony of creativity continues to resonate in the community long after the festival's conclusion.

To get the full experience of the Festival at Sandpoint's summer performance series, Ali recommended volunteering, purchasing a Season Pass, or becoming a sponsor. Season Passes for this year's summer series have already sold out, but marking calendars for October 1 each year when they go on sale ensures the best deal on the full lineup experience. Becoming a volunteer for one of the festival's many departments is another way to be part of the excitement while giving back to the community. Attending every night immerses festival-goers in the festival culture and allows them to connect with friends they may only see once a year while also making new ones. Moreover, attending the festival not only supports a local nonprofit and music education but also provides a unique opportunity to experience the vibrant atmosphere and immerse oneself in the festivities.

As the sun sets on each festival day, leaving behind an echo of melodies and memories, the 2023 Festival at Sandpoint stands as a testament to the unifying power of music. It transcends boundaries, connects hearts and celebrates the vibrant spirit of Sandpoint and its surrounding community. So, whether you're an ardent music lover, a seeker of unforgettable experiences, or a local resident looking to revel in the magic of your town, the Festival at Sandpoint beckons you to immerse yourself in its symphony of joy, inspiration and cultural richness. Prepare to be enchanted, uplifted and forever transformed by the magic that awaits you at the 2023 Festival at Sandpoint.

For this year’s lineup and to purchase tickets, visit

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