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Growth of Treefort Music Fest far beyond co-founder's expectations

Treefort Music Fest has adapted and changed over the years, but it is all in an effort to give local artists the recognition they deserve.

BOISE, Idaho — A decade ago, few options existed for local Boise artists to showcase their talents, according to Treefort Music Fest co-founder and director Eric Gilbert.

Gilbert learned firsthand how the City of Trees' music scene was 10 years ago.

“For the creative scene here, sometimes it's hard to be seen from the national scene,” Gilbert said. “Touring the country, everyone was like, ‘where's Idaho? Is there even Music there?’ Well, we're here. And we're in a band!”

The questions made an impact on him.

Gilbert got to work, eventually co-founding Treefort in 2012. It is now an Idaho tradition 10 years in the making.

“It's exciting and to be honest, we were just trying to pull off one festival,” Gilbert said.

The festival quickly outgrew it’s humble Boise roots. It now serves as a destination for music festival junkies.

“It's only gotten better and there's so many exciting things to do,’ Treefort attendee Julie Carter said. “We really love festivals that are playful and joyful.”

Carter makes the trip to the Treasure Valley every year with her two sisters from Portland. They have not missed a Treefort since 2017, Carter said.

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Just like the city Treefort calls home, the event is constantly changing.

“It's kinda like a tasting experience. It's a festival of discovery of all sorts,” Gilbert said. “It's just cool how broad it's become.”

The event has literal tasting experiences including Foodfort and Alefort, Gilbert said. It also plays host to figurative taste in the form of Artfort.

The music festival oversees 11 different forts, all playing host to a different experience. It is a change Gilbert did not anticipate when he started the festival a decade ago.

Gilbert also did not anticipate the scale and size of which Treefort has grown into today. More than 520 bands from 37 states and 19 countries are represented this year's at festival.

Despite its growth, Treefort's mission remains the same; to give the local creative scene some recognition that Gilbert believes the area has always deserved.

“We're the most isolated metropolitan area in the lower 48 states,” Gilbert said. “I know for a fact when bands leave here they're like, ‘ohh you're from Boise? I hear there's a really great music and art scene there.’ I think we have accomplished that to some degree.”

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