In the high swing of festival season and in the wake of disasters like Fyre Fest and the anti-Coachella backlash, I’m curious if it is possible for us to “festival better.” Am I crazy to want a little more from these productions? To want a little more from us as humans? What if we went looking for more? More as artists and individuals, listeners and party go-ers, more as a community?
Point is, I think there’s something vital missing from our festival culture. And I think I might have found the solution in the most unlikely of places.
Treefort is an annual five day arts festival — held in downtown Boise, Idaho for six years running — and is the pinnacle of what makes the nation’s smallest big city so great. If you’ve never been to Boise then some of this might surprise you. But, if you know anything about this inconspicuous little hamlet, then you know it’s nothing like what you might expect, and it’s everything you might ever want.
To give you an idea of how my experience at Treefort felt, imagine me: outside at the main stage on a barely warm March afternoon, the clouds parting for patches sun, a little beer drunk and smiling from ear to ear. And Lizzo, an MC hailing from Minneapolis is on stage, absolutely crushing it, delivering a heartfelt message about powerful women and positive energy. I look to my right and a four year-old is on her father’s shoulders, a tear is rolling down his cheek as he cheers. And to my right a group of teenage girls’ clad in festival attire jump around, and behind me an elderly woman claps and hollers.
This moment I get it, what they’ve been telling me since I took a press pass: Treefort is for everyone.