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A Family and Art Extravaganza in Stunning Bozeman at the Sweet Pea Festival

Scenic during all seasons, Bozeman, Montana, is not just known for it’s scenery. The friendly community, unique culture and great activities make this city an ideal vacation destination.


Bozeman is surrounded by beautiful wilderness in every direction, making the city ideal for a plethora of fun outdoor activities. Close proximity to Yellowstone National Park, Custer-Gallatin National Forest and Madison Buffalo Jump State Park allows you to enjoy a variety of outdoors activities. Popular things to do include biking, hiking, photography and exploring. Bozeman features a rich history and unique culture, which is on display at various locations throughout the city. You’ll encounter fun and educational experiences at the Bozeman Museum of Art, Children's Museum of Bozeman, and Museum of the Rockies. The city also plays host to a variety of restaurants and diners. A few can't-miss eating establishments include: The Nova Cafe, Roost Fried Chicken, and Montana Ale Works. Festivals held here during the summer are fun and a worthwhile experience. The annual Sweet Pea Festival is great for the entire family and is the perfect way to get to know this great community.


After nearly four decades of successful celebrations, the Sweet Pea Festival has established itself as one of the top art and family themed events in Montana. The main intent of the festival to promote and support the arts in Bozeman and features a wide assortment of activities and entertainment to educate and inform. Attendees will get to enjoy live music performed by various acts, a beer and wine garden, at least 100 different craft vendors, and flower show. There will also be live theater and dance troupe performances.


During the festival weekend you’ll get the chance to participate in a series of unique events like a juried art show, film and food festivals, competitive runs, and much more. This year's event will also feature an impressive set of food vendors. Make lifelong vacation memories and head to Bozeman for the Sweet Pea Festival; you won’t be disappointed! We got the opportunity to interview Kris Olenicki, Executive Director of the Sweet Pea Festival, to talk about this fun family event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

KO: This is the 39th Sweet Pea Festival. The festival is a three-day event of the arts held the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in August. Festivities kick off late Friday afternoon in Lindley Park with a performance by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. Saturday starts with an Adult Run, followed by a children’s run and parade that lead the community to the park where the festivities continue through 7:00 pm on Sunday. Weekend entertainment comes in many forms, music of all genres, performances by theatre and dance troupes, workshops, family friendly entertainment and activities, the Sweet Pea Flower show, a beer and wine garden featuring Montana microbrews, and over 100 arts and crafts vendors to stroll through.


The week leading up to the festival offers additional fun-filled, community events. Artists of all skill levels converge on Main Street Tuesday morning for Chalk on the Walk and this year we will have a professional chalk artist creating an installation on Main Street as well. Wednesday evening local restaurants line Main Street to offer up samples of their fare, while musicians entertain, during the ever popular Bite of Bozeman. Thursday evening is Music on Main, presented by the Downtown Bozeman Partnership and sponsored by Sweet Pea, and the Sweet Pea Art Show runs through the entire month of August at the Bozeman Public Library. Admission to events leading up to festival weekend is free. Admission to the events in Lindley Park requires the purchase of an admission wristband. (Children six and under admitted free.)


RAL: How many people to you expect to attend and who are they generally? Children? Families? Couples?

KO: Annually we draw between 12,000 and 15,000 people. It is a family friendly event so we have all of the above!


RAL: What makes this event unique?  

KO: It is run solely by volunteers and overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

KO: We have entertainment on four separate stages, food vendors of all types, over 100 arts & crafts booths to browse and so much more.


RAL: Tell me about activities that attendees will find at the festival.

KP: Here is a list of some of the activities:

  • Painting workshops for adults

  • Kids activities including:  

    • Woodworking

    • Face painting

    • Mural art

    • Easel art

    • Print making

    • Balloon bouquets

    • Bucket drumming  

    • Stomp rockets

    • Follow the Yellowstone Animal Scat (based on the book “Who Pooped in the Park” as a nod to our 100th anniversary of the National Park System)  

    • Plus more!

RAL: Will there be any dining options?

KO: Certainly! There will be up to 20 food vendors for this years festival, including the long-time Sweet Pea favorite, Tater Pigs!


RAL: What is the environment like?

KO: Beautiful downtown Lindley Park. Natural bowl for the main stage. Shaded area where the Arts & Crafts booths are.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

KO: There is everything from the Westin Element to the Lewis & Clark Motel here in Bozeman. There are many chain hotels near Interstate 90. Lots of cool B&B’s, Lehrkind Mansion and Lindley House are both downtown and very cool and historic. Howlers Inn is up Bridger Canyon about 20 miles from downtown but is very cool if you want to be IN the mountains.


RAL: What does the event mean to the community?  

KO: It is a long-standing and beloved event. The Sweet Pea Festival is a Bozeman tradition!


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

KO: It does, there was an economic impact study done in 2014 and it is estimated our economic impact is $1.7 Million!


RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community? (School funds, etc.)

KO: Sweet Pea Festival of the Arts is a 501(c)(3) organization and our mission is to promote and cultivate the arts. When we see a profit from the festival, we give grants to other arts organizations in the community.


RAL: We are driven to create memorable experiences for our travelers...what is going to make this experience memorable for a family...couple...reunion group, etc.?  

KO: Funny you should say reunion group, as we get a lot of those (Montana State University is in Bozeman) and we get a lot of reunion folks entering a float in the Sweet Pea Parade. We have so much entertainment from local, regional, national, and even international acts. They perform variety of live music, dance performances, theatre shows, painting workshops and children’s entertainment. And the price is $20 for adults for the entire three day weekend if you purchase in advance and $10 for kids. The value is amazing!

For more information about the Sweet Pea Festival, please visit their website.