Jack Frost Fest enters sixth year

Free outdoor show is one of last before winter sets in

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

Back for its sixth year, the Jack Frost Fest marks the coming transition between cool fall days and winter in Sandpoint. Founded by Mattox Farm Productions’ Robb Talbott, who is now getting his feet wet as the new executive director for the Panida Theater, Jack Frost Fest is a community gathering focused on great music, tasty food and drink, and activities for kids of all ages. 

The free festival takes place between 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Sandpoint Granary District near Matchwood Brewing Co. and Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters.

The event began at the Panida, then moved over to the Heartwood Center until three years ago, when Talbott changed the location to the Granary District (located between Church and Oak streets). The change meant Jack Frost Fest was no longer a ticketed event, instead offering admittance for free. 

“We have two stages, one underneath the overhang at Matchwood, which they enclose with heaters to keep the band and audience warm,” Talbott told the Reader. “Then we put up a big tent over by the loading dock and enclose the band and audience with more heaters. We’ll put out fire pits and things like that for people to stay warm. Hopefully everyone is going to be dancing so that’ll keep them warm.”

For Talbott, moving to the Granary District and embracing the free nature of the event was a game changer for Jack Frost Fest.

“Being outdoors is nice,” he said. “For many, this is the last time to gather outside before it gets too nasty.”

Local businesses and organizations chip in to help pay for the bands and other costs.

“It’s really inclusive this way,” Talbott said. “It allows more people to come in and experience music and gather with the community without having to worry about prices.”

Talbott offered a special thanks to Ting Internet for contributing as a major sponsor.

“If it weren’t for Ting stepping up, we were debating whether to do it this year,” Talbott said. “Ting made it possible to continue this, along with North Root Architecture and Matchwood Brewing Co. to make this all possible.”

Local musician Steven Wayne will kick off the day-long event at 11:30 a.m. with a set under the Matchwood overhang. Multi-instrumental Celtic roots duo Bridges Home will play next at 12:30 p.m. at the loading dock stage, followed by funky powerhouse trio Right Front Burner playing the first of two sets at 2 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. at the Matchwood stage. 

Internationally touring Sheridan, Wyo.-based band The Two Tracks will take the loading dock stage at 3 p.m., bringing their unique take on Americana. Led by husband and wife duo Julie and Dave Huebner, The Two Tracks have gained some fans based on their thoughtful, connective lyrics and intriguing song structures.

“When Julie and Dave sing together, they almost dance together vocally,” Talbott said. 

After an interim set by Right Front Burner at 4:30 p.m., the Seattle-based General Mojo’s will finish out the day with a show from 5:30-7 p.m.

“We had General Mojo’s play SummerFest this year and the headliners had to cancel because of COVID,” Talbott said. “These guys stepped into that spot and just killed it. It was so beautiful.”

Playing a high-energy set of alt-psych, art-pop and rock, General Mojo’s specializes in ethereal jams and glossy sonic landscapes, all atop a driving rhythmic backbone.

Along with the rotating stages of music, Jack Frost Fest will feature face painting, kids’ crafts and more. Food and drinks will be offered by Matchwood Brewing Co. and Evans Brothers. 

Matchwood will also release the highly anticipated “Beer of the Century,” which is an amber ale specially brewed in coordination with the Panida’s Century Fund capital campaign aiming to raise $1.9 million before the theater’s centennial celebration in 2027.

“The Panida will receive some proceeds from each beer sold,” Talbott said.

Bundle up, bring the kiddos and prepare for a fun day in the Granary District with the sixth year of Jack Frost Fest.

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