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Treefort Music Fest is ready to rock while balancing COVID-19 protocols

Delayed by the pandemic, the Treefort Music Fest is now underway but with careful COVID-19 protocols in place.

BOISE, Idaho — After more than a year of anticipation, the pandemic-delayed edition of Treefort Music Fest in downtown Boise is finally underway and festival leaders say, so far, so good.

"We checked in over 1,000 people yesterday through our pre-check and box office, spirits were really high, people wearing masks, felt really great," said Eric Gilbert, the co-founder and the festival director of Treefort.

The priority this weekend is to celebrate music in downtown Boise, but keeping everyone healthy and COVID-19-free is certainly a main focus.

"Yeah, everyone is taking the protocols seriously thus far, which we are excited for. Masks are required but in the spirit of really asking our community to comply because it is really important to the music community and our community at large that we show that events like these can move if we are willing to adapt to the moment," Gilbert said.

It can be difficult to get everything into place for COVID-19 protocols, but the team at Treefort said they are going the extra mile to check all the boxes.

“We've had a year and a half since COVID started to really think through how this can work and how we can adapt. Obviously now with the vaccines here, we've learned a lot about what mitigation efforts work best and so we are applying all that knowledge to how we are moving forward and we believe events that can and are willing to adapt to the moment should move forward because it really sends the right message that the vaccines work, that masks work, and all these things can work," Gilbert said.

Gilbert told KTVB that about 6,000 passes were sold for Treefort before sales were cut off last week. Ticket sales were stopped as a part of Treefort's commitment to cut down on the number of people attending the events.

"We cut ticket sales off and so we really think, on purpose, that was one of our designs last spring that we were probably going to model a smaller version of the festival. So I think for everyone coming, it's going to be a lot of our core crowd who've been coming for years and it's going to feel like some of the early days and it's going to be our core fans. Will feel smaller, more space for people to move around. Everyone is going to be masked but I think the similar Treefort spirit is going to be there and I'm excited for that," Gilbert said.

The decision to stop ticket sales does come with a price, but Gilbert said it's important to Festival leaders that they do the event responsibly because they do care about what's going on with the Idaho health care system.

"About 30% of our annual sales happen during the week of the festival, so we cut off that. Imagine having at least a 30% reduction not only in our sales but also in our attendance itself. I think the statement we are trying to put out there is that's part of how we manage through a pandemic, we do need to allow for more social distancing and more space," Gilbert said.

Gilbert added that despite COVID-19 challenges, the Treefort team believes the event will deliver the same great experience as in years past. Treefort is a great celebration centered on music, arts, and culture, those are all things that the pandemic has heavily impacted. So this year, Treefort comes with a special meaning to many.

"We are doing this to show that music matters, the music community matters. It's really important to the overall well-being of our community and we can do these things if we do them safely. So please, follow what we are asking, remember you have to come down with proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test within 48 hours and please, wear your mask," Gilbert said. 

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