Montana Public Radio

Pandemic Postpones Montana Folk Festival For Another Year

Mar 12, 2021

The Montana Folk Festival in Butte has been postponed for the second year in a row due to COVID-19. Festival Director George Everett said that although it is hard to predict the future, summer music festivals in July don’t seem to be in the cards for 2021.

"We just had to make a decision based on the situation that we saw," he said.

It takes a long time to plan a big event like the festival, Everett explained, and there wasn't enough advanced certainty about its safety for staff to feel comfortable moving forward. 

"Our window closed in when we could be able to put this together," he said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released recommendations this week for how vaccinated people can start returning to things they stopped during the pandemic. Those recommendations still call for people to avoid crowds and to wear a mask in public. 

Everett said the folk festival has attracted as many as 165,000 people and acknowledged local businesses might take a hit, like they did last year without that influx of visitors.

"It might not be as severe as it was last year because we'll have tourism and things will be getting a little bit back to normal."

Plans for holding the festival next year are already in the works, according to Everett, but he's still thinking about the events he misses the most.

"Oh, the evening performances are the best, you know, like the blues on the original stage," he said. "Albert Lee performed here and that was just a killer. Shemekia Copeland … just some of the blues performers.  One, oh, oh, one — the blues guy from Chicago who's a bus driver."

Everett knows it is going to be tough missing the festival for the second year in a row. 

"Oh, I went and took pictures of the empty original mine yard last year and just cried my eyes out. You know, it's just a sad sight to see."