News & Features

Block Party in Downtown Kalispell to Raise Funds for ImagineIF Libraries

Sept. 28 event will feature live music, kids activities, cornhole tournament and more

A block party in downtown Kalispell will be held, rain or shine, on Saturday, Sept. 28 to raise funds for ImagineIF Libraries.

Gabe Mariman of Bias Brewing, who is organizing the event from noon to 4 p.m., said there will be warming areas and cover in case the weather is bad. The party will shut down First Avenue East directly in front of Bias, meaning the brewery can also accommodate attendees.

“We wanted to throw a party to raise money and raise awareness for the library,” Mariman said.

The party will feature kids events such as an obstacle course. ImagineIF staff will be on hand to sign people up for library cards and to offer interactive activities for kids ages 2-10. A cornhole tournament will offer $500 in prizes donated by Sportsman & Ski Haus, a co-sponsor. The other event sponsors are Ortho Rehab and Straight Blast Gym.

Bias beer will be available, and food will be served from a food truck and the brewery inside. The $10 entry fee gets an adult attendee a free beer. Kids under 12 are free. Jameson and the Sordid Seeds and YYAS will perform live music. The brewery will also host an after-party.

The ImagineIF Library Foundation will host a silent dessert auction with sweet treats from downtown establishments such as Ceres Bakery and Bonelli’s Bistro.

Mariman also organized January’s Frosty the Brewfest in downtown Kalispell, which raised $12,000 for the Kalispell Downtown Association and $5,000 for the Flathead Community Foundation. He said by the time the gates opened there were already 250 people lined up around the block waiting to enter.

The success of that event inspired Mariman’s plan to hold multiple nonprofit fundraiser parties each year in downtown Kalispell. He said he chose ImagineIF because of its importance in the community, especially for families, noting that both the Bigfork and Kalispell branches need new buildings and are raising funds to upgrade.

As a parent of two young children, Mariman said his family spends a lot of time at the Kalispell library, including the regularly scheduled storytime sessions.

“The library has been very instrumental in their early education,” Mariman said.

He added: “The staff is amazing, and the things they do to keep milennials engaged and our youth engaged in this digital era has been impressive.”

While Mariman said ImagineIF has “one of the most progressive, creative library staffs in the state,” he noted that they provide their services under the constraints of an outdated building. He said libraries in Montana’s other large towns have updated facilities.

The library operates out of an aging downtown building under a lease agreement with the owner, Kalispell Public Schools, which means there is no guarantee the building will always be available for lease.

Also, earlier this year, the Flathead County Commission announced it no longer will include the library system in its capital-improvements plan. The county will still fund operations, but the announcement highlighted uncertainty over the library’s infrastructure future, particularly as high visitor volumes are straining the capacity of the current building.

Connie Behe, the ImagineIF director, has noted that Kalispell is the lone member of Montana’s eight largest cities to not have a library that is owned by the county or city.

The fundraiser is being called “Get Carded,” a reference to organizers’ desire for attendees to sign up for a library card if they don’t have one. In a press release, Charlotte Housel of the ImagineIF Library Foundation called the event “exciting.”

“(Mariman) wants to give back to a library that provides a multitude of free programs and learning opportunities for both adults and children by helping to raise money for the ImagineIF Library Foundation,” Housel said in the release, noting that the foundation “funds programs and needed enhancements to patron services not covered by public funds.”