The Inland Northwest is home to many fun and unique festivals. Here we’ve highlighted a few interesting festivals celebrating everything from huckleberries and community heritage to original music, beer and wine and the outdoors. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it’s a great sampling of the diversity of our Inland Northwest communities and culture!
Spokatopia Outdoor Adventure Festival (July 11, Spokane)
Taking place at Camp Sekani Park along the Spokane River, this outdoor adventure festival is an outdoor sports sampler and has something for everyone. You can try all sorts of activities such as stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, disc golf, rock climbing, mountain biking, slacklining, and demo bikes and try other outdoor oriented products and gear at dozens of exhibitor booths. Entertainment includes live music, a local brews beer garden, a mountain bike jump jam and more to come. The Up Chuck Challenge trail run to the top of Beacon Hill kicks things off at 9:30 in the morning ($20). Cost: adults $5 for general admission, kids under 5 free. There is an added cost to try many of the outdoor sports, with pre-registration recommended. More info and registration details at Spokatopia.com.
Kootenai Highland Gathering Celtic Games (July 17-19, Libby, Mont.)
Nestled along the banks of the Kootenay River, The Kootenai Highland Gathering Celtic Games is a competition open to all, with games suited for everyone from teens to national competitors. Spectators are welcome and participants should register early, but all can enjoy the live music, vendors, and contests, including a caber toss, sheaf toss, light and heavy weight over bar, bramar stone, hammer throw, nice legs contest and more. Camping and cabin rentals are available. Cost: adults $8, seniors/military $5, kids under 10 free. Facebook.com/kootenai.highlanders.
Schweitzer Mountain Music Festival (July 18, Sandpoint, Idaho)
More than a music festival, the Schweitzer Mountain Music Festival is all about mixing music in the outdoors with trail running, BBQ and wine. The day starts off with a 3.5 or 10-mile trail run ($20-$45) at 10 a.m., with wine tasting beginning at 11. You purchase a glass and tokens to be spent at “Wine Alley” comprised of 20 Northwest and regional wineries and 80 different wines. Three different bands serenade you throughout day as you enjoy Wine Alley, BBQ, vendor sales and other outdoor activities including zip lining, biking, disc golf, a climbing wall and more. Cost: $5-$27 (depending on how much/what you drink). Schweitzer.com.
Testicle Festival (July 29-August 2, Clinton, Mont.)
Touted as one of the “Nations Hottest Parties,” this is a strictly 21 and over festivity centered around enjoying a Montana delicacy: Rocky Mountain Oysters. Being a basic free-for-all, everyone is welcome to this contest-filled beer bash. Go expecting craziness and a loose adherence to rules. The festival draws as many as 3,000 people some years. Contests include the ball contest, the ball eating contest, the undie 500, best tattoo, Miss TestyFest, Mr. Fun Buns, nicest arms, and wet t-shirt and undies contests. General Admission: $17. Testyfesty.com.
Downtown Street Fair, Art on the Green, and Taste of Coeur d’Alene (July 31-August 2, Coeur d’Alene)
You get three events in one this weekend! The Downtown Street Fair, Art on the Green, and Taste of Coeur d’Alene are all on the same weekend, turning downtown Coeur d’Alene into one big, bustling summer festival! Over 200 vendors of all kinds line Sherman Avenue from 7th Street to 1st. Continue on through City Park as it turns into Taste of Coeur d’Alene with all kinds of different food vendors. The key is to not miss Art on the Green on the Campus of North Idaho College. While separate from the other two fairs by a few blocks, it is well worth going to, as the quality of vendors is generally better. Free admission. More Info: Cdachamber.com and Artonthegreencda.com.
Festival at Sandpoint (August 6-16, Sandpoint)
The 33rd annual Festival at Sandpoint takes place on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint. The festival touts its “eclectic music under the stars” with artists such as Ziggy Marley, The Devil Makes Three and Trampled By Turtles lined up for this year. The music selection is indeed diverse, sporting the Spokane Symphony, jazz pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, and even a family concert for only $6. Tickets: $37-$60 per night or all eight nights for $230. Festivalatsandpoint.com.
Wallace Huckleberry Festival (August 14-15, Wallace, Idaho)
Previously known as the Heritage Festival, the Wallace Huckleberry Heritage Festival, or simply HuckFest, the 30th annual Huckleberry Festival celebrates the heritage of Wallace and, of course, the delicious mountain huckleberry. You’re sure to see vendors, live music and huckleberries in various forms, but other than that, the specific events change year-to-year. Traditionally, events included the Huckleberry Pancake Breakfast on Saturday morning, a 5K walk/run, an Election of Huckleberry Sheriff and Huckleberry Hound, kid’s activities and a pie eating contest. Free admission. More info: Wallace-id.com/heritage.html or call 208-753-7151.
27th Annual National Lentil Festival (August 21-22, Pullman, Wash.)
The Palouse region of Washington and Idaho produces a quarter of the lentils in the United States, and this popular and award-winning festival is a celebration of that rich, legume-filled heritage. Events include the crowning of the “Lil’ Lentil King and Queen” and the Lentil Family of the Year, as well as kid’s activities, live music, a 5K fun run, a lentil pancake breakfast, 3-on-3 hoop classic, co-ed softball tournament, a parade and lots of lentil chili. Free admission. Lentilfest.com.
Juniper Jam Music Festival (September 5, Enterprise, Ore.)
The sweetest little music festival in Eastern Oregon is back at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds in Enterprise, Oregon. This fun-filled day of music on two stages runs from 1 p.m. until about 10. Festival-goers will enjoy folk, country, Americana, alternative and blues, as well as great food and drink, plus children’s activities. Musical acts this year include Jelly Bread, Simon Tucker Group, Marshall McLean Band, Mama Doll and many more! Tickets are 15$ in advance and 18$ at the door. Juniperjam.com. //