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Yaak Wilderness Music Festival moves to Turner Mtn.

by Brad Fuqua & Western News
| July 22, 2010 2:59 PM

Back in 2004 when the Yaak Wilderness Music Festival was established, questions about the idea raced through the minds of organizers.

The Yaak Valley Forest Council sponsored the event to celebrate the region’s qualities ranging from protecting the wild country to supporting a forest-based sustainable culture.

“We were really nervous about having a ‘wilderness’ festival,” remembers Robyn King, Yaak Valley Forest Council executive director. “One of the things I remember about it is there were a lot of mixed feelings about how people felt about wilderness – with a big ‘W.’ I learned over time that the truth of the matter is we all love this wild, beautiful country.”

The festival will renew itself for a seventh year on Saturday, July 31 at Turner Mountain Ski Area – located off Pipe Creek Road between Libby and Yaak.

Going back to that first year, King said it was important to showcase both wilderness protection and management and stewardship of forestry practices. At the time, a timber sale that focused on fuels reduction and community protection was ongoing in the Yaak.

“I happened to hear a logging truck coming down the road and I knew they were hauling logs from that project,” King said. “I thought this is perfect … we can celebrate this piece of what it’s like to be in this country. As the logging truck went by, he was blowing his horn.

“Whoever was playing said, ‘here comes one of our neighbors’ and the whole crowd stood up and cheered as he came by,” King continued. “We were just really pleased because that showcased what this festival is all about.”

The gates open at 3 p.m., with the music scheduled to run from 4-9 p.m. Alan Lane, Wise River Mercantile and Drum Brothers are the featured musicians.

This will be the first time for the Yaak festival at the ski area. Over its first five years, the event was staged at the Dirty Shame Saloon in the Yaak community. Last year, it moved to Roosevelt Park in Troy.

“We want to try to spread the love around – as they say,” King said with a laugh. “A lot of folks mentioned that they’d like to try to have a more central location and last year we tried Roosevelt Park – a great venue, great amenities. While we all had a great time, people said they enjoyed coming up into the Yaak region.”

The idea to move the festival to Turner Mountain then materialized.

“It’s a great venue for the community and we thought it would be great to let folks know about Turner,” King said. “A lot of folks who come to the festival – whether they’re local or regional – part of the whole draw is a weekend camping experience.”

Camping is not available right at Turner Mountain Ski Area but there are plenty of sites within a reasonable distance. Organizers recommend carpooling to the festival. No alcohol will be sold but those attending are welcome to bring their own, as well as a designated driver. Pets are also welcomed but need to be leashed.

The festival usually draws 150 to 250 people with the largest coming in at 300. King said many of those celebrating are from Lincoln County but others make the drive from northern Idaho, the Flathead Valley, Missoula and Canada.

King said she is particularly excited about the festival this year in celebration of Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. The bill includes a local place-based collaboration between diverse forest user-groups – wilderness, recreation, restoration and timber – on Kootenai National Forest.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students with an ID and free for children ages 13 and under.

For more information, including on where to camp, call the Yaak Valley Forest Council at 295-9736. The organization’s website is at