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12th Annual Targhee Fest Looks Like a Winner

by Pat Hill  |  Wednesday Jul. 6th, 2016

Tom Garnsey of Bozeman, who owns and operates Vootie Productions, knows what it takes to put on a hell of a show, and those skills are showcased at Targhee Fest every summer.

The Teton Mountains provide the backdrop for Targhee Fest, which many consider one of the best festivals in the Northwest. The stage sits at about 8,000 feet above sea level, at the foot of one of Grand Targhee Resort’s chairlifts. The slope leading to the lift line during ski season provides perfect seating with a good view for all, as well as plenty of room for those who just can’t stay in their seats.

It can be hard to stay in your seat at Targhee Fest. The bands featured during this three-day festival can run the gamut from rock to Americana, but the acts are always stellar. Garnsey has been at the helm of Targhee Fest since it began over a decade ago.

“It’s always fun for me,” said Garnsey. “It’s a perfect spot, with an always-amazing crowd, and amazing music.” The work bringing that music together for one three-day weekend in the Tetons can be a somewhat grueling process. Garnsey said during a May interview that “by now, I’m already thinking about next year,” even as he’s putting the finishing touches on this year’s show while preparing for the last-minute snags that can surface.

“Sometimes plans aren’t cemented until a month before the event,” he said  “Together with the Targhee folks, we work through a wish list. Then we begin making contacts. The [festival] budget dictates offers...we can’t make more offers than the budget allows...and we may not find out about an offer for three months. A popular performer might have 100 offers in a summer season. Sometimes by March or April a big act that you’re wishing for fades away. It’s really a big puzzle that you sift through until the pieces fit.”

That fit always seems to be fabulous at Targhee Fest, which features a blend of blues, Americana, Reggae and rock. It’s a fit that Garnsey uses to educate as well as entertain.

“Basically I’m a musician,” he said, “and I’m always looking for the threads between styles. All these little threads between these people that I try to bring to the Targhee stage often means you get more than your money’s worth from these acts, because they like to play together more often than not. That’s a bonus.”

The fun begins at the 12th annual Targhee Fest on Friday, July 15, with music by KIMOCK, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, Hot Tuna Electric, and moe. Saturday features the Jamie McLean Band, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons, the Jayhawks, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Bettye Lavette, and Grace Potter. Targhee Fest winds down Sunday with HoneyHoney, Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band, JJ Grey and Mofro, and the Drive-By Truckers. Every evening after the festival, Grand Targhee Resort’s Trap Bar and Grill will feature music by festival entertainers. Targhee Fest takes place near Driggs, Idaho, at Grand Targhee Resort. For more information on the festival, including ticket purchases and camping reservations (recommended), contact or

About the Author(s)

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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