Summer is on the wane. Before you know it, our two discernible weeks of genuine fall will be gone too, and with the inversions and pizzling rain will return the nagging question: Why the hell do we put up with this? Comes the gritty reply: Because it's so great in the summer.
There's a peculiar kind of logic at work in any region inhabited 12 months out of the year because somewhat less than half of those months-at least in theory-make up for the ones that suck eggs. Montanans are either short of memory or long on patience, but even in the corpse-gray bosom of winter we're planning, planning, planning what to do when it gets nice again.
Jessica Vandenbroeke hit upon the idea of a Flathead shindig on one of those winter days. "The spark came when I was driving along, looking out at the lake," she says, "and I got to wondering: Why isn't there a music festival on this lake during the summer? It's just so beautiful. So I decided to go for it. I put one foot in front of the other and everything fell into place."
After months of planning, Vandenbroeke's spark begat Lake Fest-the first annual lakeside music festival, last big party of the summer, most spectacular confluence of bands, beer and food the Valley is likely to see before the big brumal slumber.
Seven local bands will provide el Talento: the Hip Strip Tet, Big Sandy Grain Company, the Stuttering Hutterites, Penumbra, Abendego, Fuse, and the Cory Heydon Band. There will also be face-painting for the kids (10-and-unders get in free), an abundance of local vendors, and locally brewed beer. The festival grounds abut a small public beach as well; Vandenbroeke points out that the beach is there for general natage, but urges caution. "We're not pushing the fact that people can go swimming," she says, "but they can if they want." Obviously, lakeside revelry warrants a modicum of common sense. You know the drill: wait half an hour after eating eight hot dogs, don't attempt the breaststroke with a beer in each hand-pretty much what your mom would tell you.
Vandenbroeke has high hopes for the festival's maiden voyage. "We're really trying to encourage families to come. It'll be great to have the whole family hanging out on the beach and listening to great music and just having a good time."
Plus, as an added reward for the "regulars," the event has a delightfully Montana-centric theme. Not to the exclusion of anyone else, mind you, just a thumbs-up to the Treasure State and people who love it-some of us to the very terminus of all clear-headed logic.
"It's Montana music, Montana vendors and Montana beer," Vandenbroeke enthuses, "an all-Montana event, actually. We'd love to see two or three thousand people this first year, but who knows?"
So tuck in, Montana. You've earned it.
Lake Fest will be held Saturday, Aug. 28 in Bigfork. Tickets $8 advance (available at Rockin Rudy's); $10 at the gate.