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Raven Music Festival makes debut in Kendall Yards

Local musicians and artists will take over Kendall Yards, Olmsted Park and “the Nest” as music fans and food lovers gather for the inaugural celebration of the Raven River Gorge Festival this weekend.

Raven River Gorge Festival was born when a group of local residents mobilized to support local art and honor the memory of Jim Boyd, the American Indian music great and former chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation who died in 2016.

“(Jim) always wanted to do some sort of festival that blended the arts and an appreciation for the Spokane River,” said Craig Heimbigner, who has been involved with the festival since its conception. “(Jim) and I had more than one discussion trying to get something like it to happen but he was always on some board and involved with other things and then he passed away unexpectedly.”

All the group needed was a more specific goal to kickstart the festival’s creation. That all came together with Ildikó Kalapács’ proposed sculpture installation, The Bearing Project.

“That’s how we all got involved. We just love Ildikó and wanted to help this happen,” said Heimbigner.

A group that includes Heimbigner and Patricia Kienholz, the festival’s creative director, came together to build up an event capable of honoring Boyd’s wish to bring more recognition to the Spokane River Gorge area and support new art in the community. Shelly Boyd, his wife, will speak at a dedication ceremony for Boyd on Saturday.

Also during the dedication, Desja Eagle Tail will perform the national anthem in the Crow language and Tony Louie, Boyd’s nephew, will perform a few of Boyd’s original songs.

Once Kalapács’ fundraising goal is met for the sculpture’s installation, the founders intend to either pass Ravenfest on to Kendall Yards’ management or find another art project to support.

All proceeds collected during the festival will go toward the installation of Kalapács’ sculpture at Sunset Park in Kendall yards.

The new music festival will feature a variety of local bands including Trego, Atari Ferrari, Sovereign Citizen & The Non-Prophets, Elephant Gun Riot, Milonga and others.

Formerly known as Folkinception, Trego is a six-piece Americana and rock ’n’ roll group. Originally known for a more folky sound, the group has undergone a name change to accommodate their evolving style.

Atari Ferrari, now an American indie rock band, originally got together to pay tribute to David Bowie and stuck together to create their own music.

Modern hard rock quintet, Elephant Gun Riot has shared stages with popular bands in the genre including Sick Puppies, Lacuna Coil and Gemini Syndrome among others.

Sovereign Citizen & The Non-Prophets uses country instruments to create a rock ’n’ roll sound. Listeners have described the band’s work as “Cowboy Grunge,” “acoustic folk core” and “steel grass.”

Popular pan-Latin group Milonga is known for their original works written in a variety of Latin American, Spanish and Caribbean styles.

A fireworks display will follow the final event on Saturday in Olmsted Park. For specific performance times visit the event section of the festival’s website.

Attendees will also get the chance to experience the work of local artists including that of Kay O’Rourke whose painting “The Circling Raven Prophecy” inspired the festival’s name.

Raven Festival’s Fall Foods lineup features a long list of food trucks including from Incrediburger & Eggs, Azar’s, Crepe Café, Annie’s Artisan Creamery, Spokane Dogs, Soups On will be on-site to serve festival goers.

The Wandering Table and Park Lodge will be offering prix fixe meals in Kendall Yards and Sunset Park on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. and Saturday beginning at noon. 509Cooks will also be preparing food down at the beach by the Spokane River. Maryhill Winery, Iron Goat Brewery and Millwood Brewing Company will provide beer and wine.

Visitors can rent campsites in Olmsted Park from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.

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