Just when you thought you’d heard and seen all the forts — here comes Strengthfort, the newest addition to the annual Treefort Music Fest.
Strengthfort will let you flex your brawn and test your physical fortitude with an array of heavy things to lift, toss and hit in a fun circus-like atmosphere.
It joins the Treefort satellite events that flesh out the fest. Treefort is the annual music festival that takes over Downtown Boise from March 22-26 this year. The main fest is still all about the music — with hundreds of musical acts performing at a variety of venues. But the subforts offer a different diversity of cultural activities that interact and connect with the music and musicians — from yoga and film to food and technology.
Like the other forts, this one started with one passionate person with a vision to spin it into an event.
Strengthfort is the brainchild of BodyBuilding.com writer and editor Nick Collias, who discovered the fun of strongman competitions after he started work at the Boise fitness company.
“The past five years have opened my eyes to the joy of a life with balanced fitness,” Collias says. “We’ve lost the idea of fitness being fun with our gym-centered approach. Strongman is not just a historical oddity. I thought it would be fun to create this old-time carnival where people can pick up a giant stone or tear a phone book in half.”
You also can swing a hammer and try to ring the bell on the high striker, test your strength with dumbbells of varying weights, lift heavy Idaho “petrified watermelon” stones, compete in the pull-up jam and watch exhibitions by strength athletes, including Idaho’s Dani Schwalbe, who is Strongman Corporation’s current “Strongest Woman in the World.”
“It’s kind of a weird sport, but it’s fun,” says Schwalbe, 29, who teaches physical education at Canyon Springs Alternative High School in Caldwell. “From the first time I did it, it felt like a family. I was hooked.”
She is excited to share her passion for Strongman with Treeforters.
“I love that it’s a sport of playing games,” she says. “People feel like working out is some sort of punishment, but this will put a different light on it. You don’t have to know anything about it. Just come and lift something and join the family. If it’s too heavy, we lower the weight. It’s a blast.”
Schwalbe lives in Nampa and went pro last year. She won her competition with five events that she will share at Strengthfort: clean and press, yoke pull, keg medley (where you lift a full beer keg and run with it), axle and circus dumbbell lifts, and stone over bar (where you must hoist a heavy stone over a bar).
She is just one of several athletes who will run you through the paces at Strengthfort.
“I was shocked to find that there are so many strongman athletes in the area,” Collias says.
Collias pitched the idea to his friend and Treefort co-founder Eric Gilbert, who loved the idea. Then BodyBuilding.com offered to front the cost of building the equipment. Collias worked with welding students at the College of Western Idaho to build the high striker and dumbbells, and turned his garage into a workshop.
Because it’s new, the event will be a one-day fort — a dabble to gauge interest, but Collias is hopeful it will be a hit and expand next year, he says.
Strengthfort will happen from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, along 12th Street, just south of Grove Street. Look for the white picket fence and the classic midway high striker.
It is free and open to the public, so no Treefort pass is required. There will be things for people and kids of all ages to try. You will be required to sign a waiver before lifting anything.
More Treefort updates
▪ A la carte tickets are now on sale for the FiveThirtyEight podcast broadcast, 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 24, at the Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., Boise, and the LED/Magic Sword concert with the Boise Philharmonic, 8 p.m. March 24, at the Egyptian Theatre. You can get access with your Hackfort and Treefort passes, but the only way to guarantee a seat is to buy a ticket. There are a limited number available. They’re $25 each at TreefortMusicFest.com.
▪ Filmfort announced its full slate of more than 20 films, including a five-year retrospective screening of Jaffe Zinn’s “Magic Valley,” a thriller that Zinn wrote and shot in his hometown of Buhl. It stars Scott Glenn (“The Right Stuff,” “Bourne Ultimatum”) and Kyle Gallner (“Veronica Mars,” “Smallville”). The actual schedule is still forthcoming.
▪ The Treefort Music Industry Panels are back. This year’s focus is on getting your music onto new platforms. Panels are free and open to the public.
Inside Music Supervision: A look at how music supervisors (people who select music for film, television, advertising, video games and other media platforms) choose music for a specific project. Panelists include Alex Hackford, director of A&R for Sony Computer Entertainment America/Playstation, and Mary Ramos, who has helped pick music for films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained.” 3 p.m. Friday, March 24, JUMP Inspire Studio, 1100 W. Myrtle St., Boise.
Music Supervision Listening Session: The panelists will show their stuff by listening to music submitted by Treefort bands and explaining why or why not they would work for a visual project. Noon Saturday, March 25, JUMP Inspire Studio.
Independent Music in 2017 — State of the Industry: A discussion about how podcasts are changing the music industry led by “The Future of What” radio program host Portia Sabin. Noon Sunday, March 26, The Owyhee, 1109 W. Main St., Boise. This discussion is being recorded for a future podcast.
The Future of Music Discovery: A panel led by Treefort’s Matt Jones will discuss how musicians can use music distribution platforms — iTunes, etc. — to find new fans. You’ll hear from Gorilla vs. Bear music blog founder Chris Cantalini, Zeke Howard of the audience engagement company The Brigade and others. 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 26, The Owyhee.
Treefort Music Fest
Wednesday, March 22, to Sunday, March 26, various venues, Downtown Boise. $165 five-day wristbands. $185 five-day wristband; $299 zipline pass; $99 for an under-21 wristband. Day passes: $65 to $95; main stage-only passes: $35 and $45. Also, add-on event tickets: $25 for LED/Magic Sword and the Boise Philharmonic; $25 for FiveThirtyEight live broadcast. TreefortMusicFest.com.