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Treefort Music Fest impacts local economy

KTVB-TV Boise 3/27/2023 Abby Davis

For five days in March, it's hard to wander through downtown Boise without hearing some music — all thanks to Treefort Music Fest.

It's a massive music festival that grows every year. This year, festival director Eric Gilbert said more than 500 artists performed at 60 different stages scattered throughout the city. All of those performances drew a lot of people and a lot of business.

"It's a big influx of folks, and they're eating at all the downtown restaurants, and all of our venues are downtown," Gilbert said. "A lot of downtown Boise is benefitting during this week."

Carrie Westgard, Visit Boise executive director, said they estimate Treefort brought in nearly $8 million in travel spending. That money goes toward various stores, attractions and restaurants.

Treefort also helps expand Boise's appeal to out-of-towners. Gilbert said last year, more than 50% of music fest pass holders were not from Idaho.

"It's such a great opportunity for us to show the outside world why we all love Boise and the opportunities that are here," he said.

Gilbert said more and more local companies and Idahoans recognize just how much Treefort impacts the community. He believes a thriving arts community benefits many other industries.

"There's a lot of people that are trying to attract people for their company to work here or hold them here," he said, "and if we have a strong cultural scene, that really helps them retain their talent because really strong talent wants to also live in a place that they're excited to be."

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean agrees. She said the festival has lasting economic impacts on the community since many Boise business owners look forward to Treefort each year. The more people walking around, the greater chance for sales.

Of course, she said money isn't everything.

"There's both the dollars economic impact of the weekend over 10 years but impacts that goes so much deeper in terms of creating a community that welcomes everyone, that gives everybody an opportunity and then celebrates it one weekend a year," McLean said. 

Gilbert said Treefort builds up Idaho's musicians and helps put the Gem State on the map for up-and-coming artists. Treefort also just opened its year-round Treefort Music Hall, which bolsters the music scene.

"It has become a really strong anchor point for the creative economy here and for young people, artists and folks that want to make a living doing these kinds of things," he said. 

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