Music festival makes home in Kettle Falls

S-E Staff Reporter

Formerly located in Newport

Moving the Newport Music Festival to Kettle Falls was a logical step for Mark Harding, the man in charge of bringing the event together.

Jim Crowley founded the annual festival, which was originally known as the Pend Oreille Valley Bluegrass Festival. The event originated in Cusick before relocating to Newport.
That’s when Harding first got involved.

The Kettle Falls man provided the sound system the second year the festival was in Newport. Five years ago he took over running the entire show.

The idea to move the festival wasn’t made lightly.


The main reason for relocating the festival was to bring the music closer to home.

Harding wants Kettle Falls residents to realize they can have music at home, jamming around town and just having fun.

The Newport location was wonderful, according to Harding, but running back and forth from Newport to Kettle Falls got to be too much.

"I also work for a living,” noted Harding. “If I can just run to the park a mile from my house, that's a lot easier.”

Other factors played into the decision.

The City of Newport increased their rental rates for the city park, making the location less financially viable, according to Harding.

Then there was the windstorm.

Last year a windstorm blew through Newport, shutting down the festival before the main event on Saturday.

After all the time, money and work that went into the festival, having to close early was a disappointing blow for Harding.

Kettle Falls’ Happy Dell Park also makes for the ideal location.

In Newport, the campsite area was separate from all of the activities, creating a division, but in Kettle Falls, everyone can be together.

"I wanted to create a little village, with vendors, campers and music,” explained Harding.

In Kettle Falls, that’s what he has.

Moving the location cost the festival $3,000 in sponsors right from the start. Harding is not concerned because now the festival is on his home turf where he knows all the local advertisers. So for Harding, it's easy to get the word out.

“Anything we're losing will be gained back tenfold, I believe,” Harding said.

Read the full story in the Aug 10, 2016 issue of the Statesman-Examiner.