Live Music, Local Food and Summer Fun

By Beacon Staff

Thursday nights in downtown Kalispell are about to get a lot more entertaining now that the popular Thursday!Fest series is ready to come out of hibernation and celebrate summer in the valley.

Beginning June 24 and running through Aug. 26, Thursday!Fest offers residents and visitors a place to unwind with live music, a beer garden, food choices and plenty of local vendors. Each party starts at 5 p.m. and continues until 7:30 p.m.

The Kalispell Downtown Association (KDA) and the downtown Business Improvement District (BID) have added several aspects to the Thursday!Fest celebration this year to help draw a large crowd each week, according to Pam Carbonari.

Carbonari, the events coordinator for KDA and the coordinator for BID, said the weekday street festival is shifting location this year. It will still be on Third Street, but will be held entirely between First Avenue East and Main Street.

Previously, Thursday!Fest spanned Main Street, with most vendors set up for half of a block west of the intersection and the live music half a block to the east. Now, the whole party should fit within one city block, Carbonari said, with the music stage set up on the street’s border with First Avenue East. They may also extend into the parking lot at the KM Building, she added.

This setup should help the vendors as well as maintain a cohesive feel to the festival, Carbonari said.

There will also be an expanded selection of food vendors this summer, as well as a children’s area each week.

“Things for all ages of people to be able to truly come down and enjoy,” Carbonari said.

The Thursday!Fest series made its debut last year as a push by the BID to bring people to downtown Kalispell and provide an environment that encourages socializing and supporting local merchants.

As one of the first major expenditures by the BID, Thursday!Fest is now a collaborative effort between KDA and BID, Carbonari said. The goal is to have the festival pay for itself with beer and wine sales, vendor booth fees and sponsorships.

“KDA has worked diligently at getting sponsors and we are continuing to work at having sponsors for the band and for each different Thursday event,” Carbonari said.

For now, KDA will foot the bill for the live music, which is arguably one of the biggest draws for the downtown street party. And this year’s line up should offer enough variety to keep nearly everyone’s toes tapping, Carbonari said.

“We’ve got a great lineup of music each week,” she added.

The Thursday!Fest season opens with Too Slim and the Taildraggers, a blues band from Washington, on June 24. Other musical genres, including some classic rock and roll, funk and latin jazz, are also scheduled for later in the summer, Carbonari said.

Thursday!Fest is just one of the KDA’s events this summer. Along with the popular “Picnic in the Park” series beginning June 29 and running every Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon until Aug. 24 at Depot Park, the “Art in the Park” weekend will make a return on July 23 through July 25.

The KDA is also in the final planning stages for a 5K run, called “A Run Through History,” scheduled for Sept. 18. Participants will run and walk through downtown Kalispell, finishing with a festival similar to the Thursday evening street parties, Carbonari said. They are in the process of getting the route officially certified.

There may also be a large street dance during the “Art in the Park” weekend, Carbonari said, which would encourage people to spend time in downtown Kalispell and provide a venue to keep the fun going, but that has yet to be finalized.

“We’re going to have Kalispell be the happening place,” Carbonari said.

For more information on these upcoming events, visit www.downtownkalispell.com.

Thursday!Fest Music Schedule:

June 24 Too slim and the Taildraggers

July 1 Kenny James Miller Band

July 8 Smart Alex

July 15 Pinegrass

July 22 Human Lab

July 29 Cocinando

Aug 5 Barnyard Riot

Aug 12 Fresh Ink

Aug 19 No festival – go to the Northwest Montana Fair!

Aug 26 Andre Floyd and Mood Iguana