Words & Deeds

After multiple rockin’ Idaho summers, this music festival won’t return in 2018

Instrumental funk group Lettuce performs at The Huckleberry Jam. In 2017, the festival’s strategy was to book jam-band headliners instead of mainstream names.
Instrumental funk group Lettuce performs at The Huckleberry Jam. In 2017, the festival’s strategy was to book jam-band headliners instead of mainstream names. Townsquare Media

During my annual visit to The Huckleberry Jam, I often found myself silently thanking the Idaho music gods. For the progressive band lineup. For the nearby camping with free shuttles. For that majestic, life-affirming view of the mountains at Tamarack Resort near Donnelly.

Still, attendance numbers never matched Huckleberry’s ambitions. As jam-band Moe. rocked for a modest-sized crowd this past July, it became increasingly clear that something needed to change for Huckleberry to survive.

What would that evolution entail? No idea. But there’s plenty of time to decide.

The Huckleberry Jam will go on hiatus in 2018.

Radio-station owner Townsquare Media, which organizes the event, will focus on other projects. Townsquare puts on the popular, mainstream Boise Music Festival, which is held annually at Expo Idaho, as well as the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic in Ann Morrison Park.

The plan in-house is to revisit Huckleberry’s festival model next fall, says Kevin Godwin, regional vice-president at Townsquare. After that, a decision will be made about the brand’s future.

Michael Franti performed, kids rode chair lifts, and festivalgoers danced Aug. 12-13, 2016, at the second annual Huckleberry Jam festival at Tamarack Resort near Donnelly, Idaho.

If you saw Ben Harper or Michael Franti or Brandi Carlile — or any of the other exceptional acts during Huckleberry’s three-year run — it’s a bummer.

But it isn’t all bad news for summer music fans.

Last year, Huckleberry clashed with two other music festivals on the same weekend: The Mountain Home Country Music Festival in Elmore County and the rootsy Sawtooth Valley Gathering in breathtaking Stanley.

Both will return in 2018. The Mountain Home bash will be headlined July 27-29 by Eric Church, Alan Jackson and Dierks Bentley. The Sawtooth Valley Gathering will happen July 28 and 29 — with acts still to be announced.

Online: mountainhomefestival.com, sawtoothvalleygathering.com.

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