Beverages from two dozen breweries, cideries and wineries will be poured in downtown Kalispell this Saturday as live music rings out from the Depot Park gazebo for the sixth annual Great Bear Festival benefitting the Rotary Clubs of the Flathead Valley and other community organizations.
“I consider it the best block party of the summertime in Kalispell,” said Susan Dykhuizen, a Rotary Club of Kalispell member and organizer for the festival. “It’s just so fun to be with your neighbors and the community, and to hang out, grab a beer, grab some wine, grab some cider, and listen to the bands that are playing.”
The festival is hosted by the Rotary Club Clubs of Kalispell, with help from other clubs in the area. The Rotary Clubs of the Flathead Valley support a number of efforts and projects both locally and internationally through fundraising and volunteering, including improved water sanitation access for impoverished communities in Guatemala, an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible rubberized Miracle Field in Kalispell for sports and activities, a senior mobile home repair program, scholarships at Flathead and Glacier high schools, the Glacier Symphony and Chorale, the Abbie Shelter, and more.
Community groups that help with the festival also get a percentage of the proceeds for their own service projects based on the number of volunteer hours worked at the festival. Over 250 volunteers help run the event, and the festival still has opportunities for folks to sign up to help. Volunteers get free entry, a commemorative glass and eight drink tickets.
Festivalgoers who are age 21 and up can expect to pay $40 at the gate for entry. That ticket comes with a wristband, a commemorative beer glass, and eight drink tickets. Those eight drink tickets can get each individual about two pints worth of beer, but servings can be requested in a variety of sizes, including 4- and 8-ounce pours. More drink tickets are available for purchase on site at a cost of $1 each, and there will also be a merchandise tent. Beer tents will line Center Street between Main Street and First Avenue East. Eight food trucks will also be on site, including Copacabana Grill, The Osprey Café, Piroshki Palace, Sweet Traditions, 406 Taco Nite, The Corndog House, Glacier Shave Ice and NW Island Noodles.
There are plans for a steinholding contest, and there will be other activities and games, including cornhole. People are encouraged to bring camping chairs if they’d like to sit down to enjoy the music and festivities. The festival starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. The live music will kick off with Music Lab, a jam band that plays ’60s and ’70s-era covers. The country and rock and roll sounds of Flat Black will close out the festival.
Planning for this year’s festival, whose title sponsor is Toyota, has been ongoing since November 2022. Monthly planning meetings kicked off in January, with bi-monthly meetings starting in June.
“It seems to have grown every year. We probably get around 2,500 people to come to the event,” Dykhuizen said.
In addition to beer, there will also be wine available from MontaVino Winery and a variety of vendors via Summit Distributing and George’s Distributing. The full list of breweries and cideries participating in this year’s festival includes:
- Jeremiah Johnson
- Flathead Lake Brewing
- Ronan Co-Op Brewing
- Glacier Brewing
- Iron Horse Brewery
- Sacred Waters
- Wildwood Brewing
- Boston Beer Company
- HUB (Hopworks Urban Brewery)
- Big Mountain Cider
- Tieton Cider
- Thirsty Street Brewing
- Great Burn Brewing
- Bias Brewing
- Snake River Brewing
- Golden Triangle Brew Co.
- Upslope Brewing
- Bombastic Brewing
- Tamarack Brewing Co.
- Quirk Seltzer
- Athletic Brewing
For more information go to greatbearfestival.com.
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