Bozeman’s Sweet Pea Festival 2014 Couldn’t Be Sweeter

Bozeman’s 37th annual Sweet Pea Festival

Pat Hill

Take a lovely venue like Lindley Park in the summer, throw in some local arts and crafts, add some great music, and season to taste with some of the Gallatin Valley’s best food and beverages: the result is Bozeman’s 37th annual Sweet Pea Festival, taking place the first weekend of August.

“Create a Dream” is the theme for this year’s festival, which always aims to celebrate the arts. The Sweet Pea Festival features myriad of family-friendly activities and entertainment, including performances by local theatre and dance groups, children’s activities, music spanning many genres, eats like the ever-popular tater pig, and offerings from well over 100 local artists and craftspeople. And a vibrant local volunteer effort involving hundreds of people is what ties the Sweet Pea Festival together into one of Bozeman’s best community events. All funds raised above the festival’s operating costs are given back to the community via grants for art-related projects and other local aims.

The City of Bozeman also ramps up activities during the week leading up to Sweet Pea, with city sidewalks coming alive with art during Tuesday’s (July 29) Chalk on the Walk event. Wednesday evening’s Bite of Bozeman has local restauranteurs setting up shop on an auto-free (until dark) Main Street offering their wares, and live music in two or three different locations along the thoroughfare. Thursday night brings another vehicle-free portion of East Main for Music on Main, featuring the reggae-rock sound of Jon Wayne and the Payne.

The music schedule for the Sweet Pea Festival proper is outstanding this year. Grant Gilmore of Bozeman’s Compound Presents production company has put together a 2014 Sweet Pea lineup with something to please everyone.

“I am really looking forward to all the acts that are slated for this year,” said the 40-year-old Gilmore, who has been bringing music to Bozeman since his days with the Associated Students of Montana State University (ASMSU) over 10 years ago. “I began volunteering with Sweet Pea seven or eight years ago...this year I was approached by one of the [Sweet Pea] Board members to see if I could help with the music lineup this year and I agreed.” Gilmore said it took a lot of work to get nationally known acts booked with a somewhat limited budget, but he is satisfied with the results, and festival-goers should be as well.

“There are some award winning acts, some obscure bands, and some that are sure to grow in popularity over the next couple years,” Gilmore said. “Timing worked out great for Reckless Kelly on Friday night, as they will be playing the Braun Brothers Reunion in Challis, Idaho (their home state), the following weekend. White Buffalo, who is headlining on Saturday night, has a huge affinity for Montana. Brothers Comatose played a couple years ago at The Filling Station, and then at Targhee Bluegrass Festival last year. The band loves this part of the country because of fans’ complete passion for their music.”  

“I am also really excited about The Pines band...their music is ethereal and beautiful and just really unique,” said Gilmore. “Chicago Afrobeat Project opens things up on Sunday morning, and will bring some serious energy to the stage. Hayes Carll, who is headlining on Sunday, had been lauded as one of America’s greatest songwriters. LoCura plays some crazy Flamenco Ska music, Miner is an up-and-coming act in the vein of The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons, and Ari Heist has been featured on many TV shows with his sensitive and passionate song writing. Honestly all the acts are going to be phenomenal and are not to be missed... I hope people get out and catch most of these bands and artists, as it really is going to be a great weekend of music in Bozeman.”

There are a few new twists to catch at the festival this year. Local wine and beer makers will have their wares featured at the Beer and Wine Garden, located in the southwest corner of Lindley Park. Festival-goers can enjoy a locally produced beer or wine while enjoying music in the Bowl: hours of operation for the Garden are Friday, 4-10 pm, Saturday, 2-9 pm, and Sunday, 1-4 pm. For a non-alcoholic refreshment option, the Sweet Pea Festival has also teamed up with the City of Bozeman this year to provide a Mobile Water Station that will allow festival-goers to refill their water bottles--there will also be Sweet Pea Festival branded Klean Kanteen® water bottles available for purchase at the Festival. Get a sneak preview of the water station at the Bite of Bozeman on July 30th.

The Sweet Pea Run has regained its old handle, and this, one of the oldest running events in Bozeman, is fun as well as competitive, with cash prizes and prizes for the best outfits in the race. The 10K portion of the race is also the Road Runners Club of America State Championship race. Register for the Sweet Pea Run online at
Online volunteer scheduling has made things much easier for the volunteers that make the festival possible. This year, volunteers contributing three or more hours at Sweet Pea can receive a free three-day wristband to attend the festival: volunteers must sign up before July 29th to receive free festival entry, and shifts can be scheduled at

Festival tickets are also available for purchase online at Passes purchased online may be picked up at Will Call at the festival. Three-day passes are still only $15 (service fees apply when purchased online). Passes will still be available at Bozeman area ticket outlets starting July 5th.

Don’t miss out on Bozeman’s premiere summer event. For more information, check online at, or call 406-586-4003.  

This was made by

Pat Hill

Pat Hill is a freelance writer in Bozeman. A native Montanan and former advisor to Montana State University’s Exponent newspaper, Pat has been writing about the history and politics of the Treasure State for nearly three decades.

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