Festival at Sandpoint: The show must go on

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Dear Festival at Sandpoint friends:

Festival lovers and the Festival Board are reaching out to you to assure you that the show will go on! We know you are aware of at least some of the challenges we have faced and continue to face, and we want to explain how we are addressing them.

No. 1: The loss of our director and staff.

This was a blow, of course. The previous director had been in place for many years and the Festival had thrived. However, because of legal and ethical issues, the board felt that a change was necessary. Ali Baranski has stepped in as interim director and Amy Bistline is acting office manager. The board remains, and several volunteers have stepped in to help. A job posting for a permanent director is being widely circulated.

No. 2: Bookings for the season.

The Festival has contracted with a professional booking agency. We are confident that exciting acts will be in place in plenty of time for our August season. We are excited about our potential lineup.

No. 3: Artificial turf on Memorial Field.

The city of Sandpoint will be installing turf over much of the field in plenty of time for set up and performances. But this new surface requires that a protective barrier be installed in order to protect the turf. This means extra expense that needs to be planned for and addressed. The cost is $100,000 — half of which is due very soon. We are working very closely with the city on the new turf project and have been since before the vote. The city was aware of our preference and we did have board members at all of the city council meetings. We have our current and past production managers, alongside Ali working with both the engineers and the city to ensure The Festivals needs are addressed. Yes, things might look a little different this year, but we’ll have the tent and the music at Memorial Field..

No. 4: The gun issue.

You have no doubt heard at least some of this story. Bonner County sued the city of Sandpoint for leasing to the Festival which does not allow weapons at Memorial Field during its lease. The city continues to assert once it leases the property, the lessee (The Festival) can enforce its own rules. Any performers the Festival has worked with refuse to appear where guns are allowed and they are not aware of any nationally known artists that will play in a venue that allows weapons. In addition, the Festival not only serves alcohol but allows ticket holders to bring their own. This issue is complicated and will take time to move through legal channels to a conclusion. The Festival is confident this issue will not impede the concert series this year.

Those are the challenges. Here are some facts:

The Festival brings approximately $4 million into our city in the two weeks it goes on. Restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and citizens, all benefit monetarily and culturally. But that is not all. Throughout the year, Festival-goers from out of the area return to ski, boat, shop and stay. Sandpoint is unique and wonderful! And, part of the magic of our small town is that we host a world class music festival. On the edge of our beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. At the foot of our amazing Schweitzer ski hill. In the middle of our laid-back but progressive small town. We simply must continue to make the magic happen.

The show must go on!

Here’s the part where we ask for money: And here’s how you can help:

No. 1: Renew your sponsorship (add a bit if you can)

No. 2: Become a sponsor or patron (there are several levels of sponsorship and each comes with lots of perks — like tickets, program ads, etc.)

No. 3: Talk to your friends and encourage their support.

The Festival needs you! Sandpoint needs you! The show will go on!

RANEL HANSON

Sandpoint

Festival volunteer

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Sandpoint, ID 83864

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