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River City Roots Festival: A love song to Missoula and its people

Posted at 10:02 AM, Aug 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-29 12:02:59-04

MISSOULA — The 15th annual River City Roots Festival is underway in Missoula, which explains why music is playing, families are playing, and the community is gathered together to send off summer.

“A few people got together and felt that downtown in Missoula in general needed like a signature celebration that really highlighted all the fun different aspects of Missoula and its personality,” said Kristen Sackett, Downtown Missoula Partnership marketing and events director.

Sackett is in charge of organizing the River City Roots Festival, a free two-day event hosted by the downtown Missoula partnership. It started as a one-day deal but over time became a love song to Missoula and its community.

“It celebrates everything that is about Missoula from the art to the music to local food to being active to family and community, so we're really proud of how this festival really showcases all of those different aspects,” said Sackett.

The festival encompasses things that make Missoula, Missoula. There is everything from music to a fun run, an art show, food vendors, and street bars. And after taking last year off due to COVID-19, this year was even more special to the community.

“Can come and hang out and just be together which, especially if they're—last year we've missed terribly,” said Sackett.

“Well, this event is just full of wonderful people, wonderful music, wonderful arts, and beer. It's a great time to be out in the city,” River City Roots Festival participant Noah Willison said.

The event has really taken off and become a Missoula staple, welcoming 50 to 60 musicians over the past 15 years and averaging about 15,000 people during the weekend. The Lil Smokies, a Missoula band turned national, are scheduled to play, so Sackett is predicting that about 18,000 people will turn out this weekend.

“Yeah, Have a good time. That's why we're out here,” said Willison.

The festival has a little something for everyone to enjoy and that is the goal that the Downtown Missoula Partnership has for the event—to bring everyone together.