Friday kicked off the official start of summer in this North Idaho community.
With the announcement of the 2009 performers for the Festival at Sandpoint, people begin to strategically plan which concerts they will attend, put in requests at work for specific vacation days so they can stand in line to secure a close-up seat, and line up those high-in-demand baby sitters.
Sandpoint resident Dave Olson and his family have purchased Festival at Sandpoint season passes for the past 10 years. They love the casual atmosphere, attending the concerts with a group of friends and just simply being able to sit back and relax and enjoy the variety of music the Festival offers.
“We are often delighted and surprised by groups we’ve never heard about before,” said Olson. “Actually, some of the most entertaining acts have been from the opening acts, a real bonus and delight.”
And it looks like Olson and other festival patrons won’t be disappointed by the lineup produced by festival executive director Dyno Wahl and her staff.
On Aug. 6, Firefall and Poco will open the series of eight concerts. With Firefall’s 1970s hits “Just Remember I Love You,” and “You are the Woman,” and songs such as “Heart of the Night” by Poco, baby boomers will surely be lining up to purchase tickets.
Both Poco and Firefall, who typically perform together, were supposed to appear at last year’s festival but mistakenly double-booked on the same night. They worked it out with Wahl and agreed to attend this year’s event.
On Aug. 8, Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist Boz Scaggs will perform. Some of his well-known hits include “We’re All Alone,” “Lowdown” and “Look What You’ve Done to Me.”
The Festival at Sandpoint is in its 27th year and is a big attraction across the region. It takes place at Memorial Field on the shores of the Pend Oreille River in south Sandpoint. People line up early to be the first to spread their blankets, picnic baskets and coolers prior to the show. But the truth is there is not a bad seat in the entire setting. Whether sitting in the bleachers, lawn chairs or on a blanket spread out on the grass, it feels as though the artists are performing in one’s own backyard, organizers say.
The festival sells a limited number of early bird season passes prior to announcing the lineup. For a price of $169 a season pass includes eight concerts throughout the two-week event.
According to festival’s office manager Carol Winget, the struggling economy did not impact season ticket sales this year.
“We have sold out of our season passes (prior to announcing the lineup) for the last several years,” said Winget, who adds that this year was not any different. But that doesn’t mean that people cannot still get tickets.
Individual ticket prices this year range from $29.95 to $49.95. Family night is offered at only $5 a ticket and is a big hit for young and old, offering activities for the children such as a bounce house and face painting.
Classical music lovers always enjoy the grand finale, which this year will highlight a tribute to Benny Goodman. The last Saturday of the festival will be Super Country Saturday and will feature Grammy-winning country music star Clint Black.
Wahl said the businesses, individuals and organizations in this town have continued to support the festival year after year, even in tough economic times. Not only is it great entertainment, but it also brings recognition to the area.
“People see it as an investment in the community,” Wahl said.
Olson said he and his family plan their summer around the festival and look forward to it each year.
“It is our stay-at-home vacation every summer. We’ve had more fun, seen more shows, and all within two blocks of our house. It’s the best bargain about living in Sandpoint,” he said.