New Year, Same Concert

The Festival at Sandpoint is slated to happen this year, despite many concerns about it’s future.


Connor Bird, Editor in Chief

The Festival at Sandpoint has been a staple of Sandpoint’s culture for nearly 40 years. In just the past year, the future of this iconic event has been thrown into question. However, the new Executive Director, Ali Baranski, is adamant that the Festival isn’t going anywhere. 

“At this point, we are confident that the show will go on this summer,” Baranski said.

A lot of drama has been surrounding the Festival lately. How a turf field at Memorial will affect the venue or what impact COVID will have, to name a couple talking points. 

On the topic of Memorial, Baranski said that the Festival board has “worked very closely with the City of Sandpoint, our production team, and additional consultants starting in September of 2019 to prepare for the Festival at Sandpoint to be held at War Memorial Field for 2020.”

However, this venue may not be the permanent home for the concert in the future. Due to high operational costs, and the amount it costs to cover the field, the Festival “is starting the process of finding a new venue of our own that is more financially sustainable to help guarantee the Festival’s future,” Baranski explained.

As for COVID procedures, nothing is set in stone yet. The Festival board will be working closely with the Panhandle Health District for guidance as time goes on. Baranski is expecting to make some alterations, but she is not sure of much at the moment. 

One unforeseen problem with this years’ concert is the lineup of artists. Due to the pandemic, the music and entertainment industry has taken a huge hit. Because of this, it has become increasingly difficult to book artists. Every venue across the country is having to change dates and locations, and managers are trying to navigate this for their artists, which is causing  headaches for everyone involved. Baranski is grateful to her partners who have helped her throughout the planning process.“Historically, the Festival announces the lineup at the end of April, so we are anticipating an April/May announcement,” said Baranski. 

In addition to the concert this summer, many other Festival events are happening as scheduled. For any Bonner County high school senior, there are scholarships available on their website. These are targeted at those who are wanting to pursue a career in music, or who write their own song lyrics. They are also looking for volunteers, and are happy to accept high school students. For any updates, follow the Festival on social media, or check out their website. 

The biggest similarity between previous Festivals and the one upcoming is the support from the community.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support of our community, donors, and sponsors this past year and understand the desire to bring live music back in a safe manner.” said Baranski. 

While the concert may be a little bit different this year, the Festival’s roots in Sandpoint aren’t going anywhere and the support from the community runs strong.