The Festival at Sandpoint 2019
Sandpoint, Idaho – August 12, 2019
Sneaking past the line of incredibly anxious festival patrons, some of whom pay local high-school students hundreds of dollars to hang out overnight to save the best spot in line, I arrived on scene as loose-ends were tied, and everything came together. The floodgates opened at 6:30 on the dot, allowing the happy people to pour in, sprinting across the lawn with piles of puffy blankets and rattling coolers of alcoholic concoctions. Blankets billowed as people waved them into square 8’x8’ seating arrangements for the night. I was surprised to see how fast the grass became tiled by textiles. I’ve never seen so many elderly people running so fast in my life! Pro-Tip: START TRAINING FOR NEXT YEAR! As an uninformed press agent, security pounced me on as I tried to save my own spot for sound-check. The band practiced prickly little hymns praising Sandpoint.
I love being barefoot in the grass, feeling the first sense of Autumn-chill that creeps into the air. “Festival Season” is the most happening two-weeks on Sandpoint’s calendar. On these early August weekends, visitors and locals alike are boating, hiking or spending the day lake-siding, then feasting, drinking and dancing into the wee-hours at The Hive’s curated “Aftival” party. Looking up at Sandpoint’s iconic stage, I realized how lucky I am to live in this little vacation-land surrounded by Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and the beautiful Pend O’reille Lake with its glowing orange summer sun that sets behind the smoky mountains. The colorful quilt of Sandpoint locals picnicking on the grass amongst friends and family is quite the sight, but there’s something about the magic that comes to life under the pink and blue lights projected upon the stretched-stage’s classic canvas canopy. The half-yellow moon was the perfect backdrop for the spidery sparklers set off into the night sky.
If you’re not munching on a homemade meal (on some blankets I saw unfathomable smorgasbords and astonishing 10-course meals that raised my standards for future picnic-expectations), there’s plentiful delicacy provided by some of Sandpoint’s all-time Festival favorites. Mai’s Thai ladled heaps of spicy curries over rice; The Pack River store sold colorful chopped-salads and wraps, Ola! prepared the most amazing gyros filled with savory meats and Mediterranean sauces; Farmhouse Kitchen loaded an entire pig onto the plates of people ordering barbeque pork ribs; and the Panida Theater piled mile-high mounds of ice-cream into paper bowls topped with chocolate syrup and crunchy rainbow sprinkles. Endless comfort food, and the fact that you can bring your own liquor in is absolutely epic, though the bartenders’ extra-strong drinks definitely aid in the fun.
Volunteers of all ages worked hard while grooving. Rubber-gloved children taught attendees how to compost and recycle—you GO kiddos! It’s truly a “family festival” with little girls happily stacked atop their father’s shoulders, belting the words to songs together, completely in sync. The electrifying National Anthem guitar-solo started the show off right on opening night. We were graced with three dance-concerts, and basically a fourth when Walk Off The Earth (my personal top-pick for this year), made everyone hop to their feet and boogie. People pridefully told out-of-towners, “I know them,” when the Shook Twins took the stage; I witnessed several sets of joyful-tears during the Avett Brothers’ positive-vibe provoking set; and even though Cool and the Gang was cancelled due to weather, by the last day of an 8-day festival, we’re all ready to give our weary livers a break, and honestly, Sandpoint NEEDED the rain!
Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato