By Ben Olson
Picture this: you’re enjoying a leisurely drive down a beautiful country lane. Rounding the corner, a pristine lake comes into view. You notice some cars parked in a nearby field, colorful flags, tents, kids playing. The sound of live music drifts in through your open window.
No, this isn’t heaven. It’s the Sandpoint SummerFest.
With origins dating back two decades, the arts, music and cultural festival near Garfield Bay is probably the coolest thing you’ve never been to.
“It’s really an incredible event not to mention an important fundraiser,” said Steve Holt, Executive Director of the Eureka Institute, which hosts the Sandpoint SummerFest each year. “It’s intimate and small compared to most music festivals as well as being family oriented. It’s a safe environment to let kids roam and engage in a variety of crafts and other activities.”
For three days, starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 10, and wrapping up Sunday, July 12, SummerFest will host an incredible array of music, arts and crafts, and educational opportunities at the Eureka Center surrounded by the lake in a pristine collection of trees with mountain views.
The best part? It’s all for a good cause.
“It especially touches my heart because it’s a benefit for a program that we at the Eureka Institute feel is a real community asset,” said Holt.
All the proceeds this year will go toward the Eureka Institute’s Construction Basics for Teens Program. This weeklong, hands-on program gives youth an overall sense of what it’s like to design and construct a variety of different structures as well as build self-esteem and demonstrate the benefits of working as a team.
“The first year, we constructed a small bunkhouse,” said Holt. “Last week, we built a pole structure. The kids harvested the trees, limbed them by hand, and erected a covered vending area at the amphitheater. The group was amazed and couldn’t believe they’d gathered their own material just days prior, and now there’s a structure.”
For Holt, giving youth, as well as adults, positive educational and recreational experiences and necessary life skills that foster and support life-long learning is the reason the Eureka Institute exists.
Aside from the community benefits SummerFest provides, the event is centered around a collection of incredible regional acts that continue to draw; bands such as MoJo Green, Scott Pemberton Band, TapWater, Gipsy Moon, Tim Snider, BareGrass, Adrian Xavier, Earthworm, and the Gypsy Divas dance troupe.
“In addition to everything else this year’s theme is ‘Water,’” said Holt. “To help create an awareness around how important the quality of our water is we’ll have several nonprofits on hand to give out information and talk to you about some of the critical issues facing the local area.”
Rock Creek Alliance, the Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper, Idaho Conservation League, and Trout Unlimited will all make a presence this year, along with a long list of area sponsors that have made this event come together.
“This year, local businesses as well as individuals have really stepped up to support this year’s event,” said Holt. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of Boyle Platte and Keyes Accounting Services, Hope Marina, Common Knowledge, Timothy Krech, Misty Mountain Furniture, Medicine Tree Woodworks, Idaho Pour Authority, Ninkasi Brewing, Evans Brothers Coffee, Pend d’Oreille Winery and especially Jeff Nizzoli of Eichardt’s Pub, who will be serving all the food and beverages for the weekend.”
How do you get to SummerFest? From Highway 95, go east on Sagle Road and drive for 11 miles. Stay left at the two forks in the road and at the 11-mile mark, take a left on Eureka Road. SummerFest is only 50 yards down Eureka Road, the first driveway on the left.
There will be plenty of hot food available catered by Jeff Nizzoli at Eichardt’s, but you’re also welcome to bring your own. There’s more than enough spaces for tent and RV camping but please leave your pets at home!
There are a host of ticket options that allow you to stay a single day, or for the entire event.
“This year, as a Fourth of July gift,” said Holt, “we reinstated the early bird ticket pricing this week until midnight on the Fourth. For $100, you get an entire weekend pass, all your food and beverages, including beer and wine. There are also great deals on family and single parent passes.”
If you’re interested in buying tickets, or volunteering at this year’s Sandpoint SummerFest, or would like more information about the great programs the Eureka Institute sponsors, please call 265-4000 or visit their website at eureka-institute.org.
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