‘Comfortable in Kalispell’ Hopes to Bring Traffic Back Downtown

The Kalispell Downtown Association will host the free event on Saturday, June 6

By Maggie Dresser
Mike Murray performs at Under the Big Sky, a new music festival held on Big Mountain Ranch outside of Whitefish, Montana on July 13 and 14, 2019.

After nearly three months of social distancing and quarantining, Flathead residents are finally being encouraged to step outside, see live music and shop as the city celebrates Phase 2 of the state’s reopening with a new event, Comfortable in Kalispell.

With five separate musical acts dispersed around downtown, organizers with the Kalispell Downtown Association and the Kalispell Business Improvement District are hoping to stimulate the local economy while practicing social distancing.

“We thought, well, if we bring music to downtown Kalispell and we spread it around downtown, that might direct people to walk into local bars, breweries and the winery and do a little shopping,” said Pam Carbonari of the Kalispell Downtown Association.

Spread around downtown, Brix Bottleshop and the Bookshelf will host The Mike Murray Duo, MontaVino Winery and Bonelli’s Bistro will host the Brent Jameson Duo, the Tommy Edwards Duo will play at Bias Brewing and SBG, Luke Dowler will appear at Kalispell Brewing and True Water Fly Shop with Dan Dubuque at First Avenue Taphouse.

Since Montana entered Phase 2 of the reopening process on June 1, businesses can reach 75% capacity instead of just 50% in Phase 1, according to Gov. Bullock’s directive.

While the organizers of “Comfortable in Kalispell” will be passing out masks and sanitizer and encourage social distancing, Carbonari says businesses can set their own guidelines, while following state and local guidelines, to keep customers safe during the event.

“We’re not going to be telling anybody that they should or shouldn’t be using a mask or how many people they should allow,” Carbonari said. “It’s their business and they are the ones that know best how to handle their business.”

Since many businesses were shuttered for nearly two months, the Kalispell Business Improvement District helped support the event, but Carbonari says a few businesses owners who wanted music in front of their shops also stepped forward to help sponsor “Comfortable in Kalispell.”

“We didn’t want to put any additional stress on downtown businesses,” she said.

To incentivize small business spending, customers will receive raffle tickets for buying lunch, drinks or other items downtown, which will make recipients eligible for 12 gift certificates for downtown businesses.

“It’s really truly all about getting people to recognize the impact that COVID has had on everybody,” Carbonari said. “In particular we’re interested in getting people back in mom and pop (shops).”

Carbonari says she’s received many positive responses from Kalispell’s business owners who are excited to have people back downtown. While many have asked how they can support the event, Carbonari is simply asking them to be open during normal business hours.

While Carbonari hopes to see a “medium” amount of people, enough to support businesses and see live music while complying with social distancing, she hopes to see people relaxing and interacting in their community once again.

“Comfortable in Kalispell” will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 6. Attendees are encouraged to bring a can of food for the Flathead Valley Food Bank.

For more information, visit www.downtownkalispell.com.


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