By Dave Ongie, News Editor
On the heels of a highly successful inaugural event last August, the organizers of the Meet the Mountains Festival are putting the finishing touches on their second annual celebration of all things outdoors. The festival will once again be anchored in Founders Park on Aug. 23-24, and Kayla Carter said the goal is to advance the mission that inspired the creation of the festival in the first place.
“We are keeping with our mission to promote healthy, active lifestyles and showcase all the outdoor opportunities throughout the region,” said Carter, the outdoor development manager for NeTREP. “And it’s all about partnerships, trying to bring people together that have that common interest of outdoor recreation and, you know, you just hope everyone can come together and celebrate those outdoor assets that we have in the region.”
Folks who show up at Founders Park for this year’s festival – which runs from 1-10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23 and 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24 – will be greeted by a format that is very similar to last year’s festival. Classes, clinics, hands-on demos, competition, entertainment, vendors, food and drink will provide something for people of all ages. There will also be tie-ins with events happening offsite in order to encourage festivalgoers to get out and explore the region.
“We want people to get out and explore and maybe enter a race or do a competition and then come to the festival when they get done or maybe come back the next day,” Carter said. “We really want people moving around the region, not just coming to the festival that’s in Founders.”
The changes this year will be few and far between. A zipline promises to be a hit, and the Air Dogs – a huge hit last year – will do extra shows to keep up with the high demand generated at last year’s festival. A pair of live bands – Vintage Pistol on Friday and The Way Down Wanderers on Saturday – will close out each day with quality entertainment.
But mostly the organizers of the event have focused on streamlining what was done last year and removing barriers that might prevent folks from fully experiencing the event. For example, Carter said a marketplace zone has been added to put most everyone selling gear or outdoor recreation items in one place to make shopping easier.
Also, all the activities taking place inside Founders Park will be free of charge this year.
“Everything but the beer and the food is free this year,” Carter said. “We’ve got so many good sponsors and partners, and they are the people who help make this festival free. We’ve really tried extra hard to make sure everything is free this year because last year there were a few fees associated with the climbing wall and ax throwing.”
Reflecting on the planning process, Carter said the strengthening of partnerships between the festival, community organizations and sponsors alike has put the festival in position to improve upon what it accomplished last year.
“We’ve had a lot more success in getting sponsorship this year, and I think it’s just gonna continue to grow and we’ll find more and more partners out there that are willing to support us in the vision,” Carter said. “What we’re really hoping to do with the proceeds that we get from the festival is invest that back into outdoor recreation projects throughout the region.”
Carter said organizers are planning to have an app available to help folks stay up-to-date on the schedule of events and activities inside Founders Park and learn more about off-site events taking place throughout the weekend.
Those seeking more information on this year’s Meet the Mountains Festival are encouraged to visit www.mtmfest.com. The site includes a frequently asked questions section filled with helpful information for anyone looking to come to the event.