Boise Shriners-Treefort Partnership Has Benefits For Both Groups

Mar 18, 2016

Mr. Gnome, a Treefort favorite, performs at El Korah Shrine during the 2014 festival. The neon symbol above the stage is the symbol of the fraternity, known as the scimitar and crescent.
Credit Patrick Sweeney / Treefort Music Fest

Shriners are generally known for riding around in miniature cars in parades, for circuses they sponsor and for the hospitals they operate for children.

But in Boise, Shriners have also become a linchpin in helping downtown host Treefort Music Fest, the City of Trees' annual indie music festival.

On Thursday, City Club members heard about plans for this year's festival which opens next Wednesday, as well as how the partnership between the 125-year-old fraternal organization and the five-year-old music festival is working.

Ron Lester, who has led Boise's El Korah club, detailed the partnership between his 900-member group and the festival organizers in the five years since Treefort's founding.

He said those five years have shown that hosting concerts at the venue is not only another way for the club to raise money, but that more people have become aware of and interested in the organization, which has about a third of the membership it did in its heyday 40 years ago. For concert-goers, it's a pop-up music venue that usually isn't part of the concert circuit. Its late-night breakfasts are also popular.

Also speaking at Thursday's forum, which will be broadcast in its entirety Saturday at 8 p.m. and Tuesday at 7 p.m. on KBSX, was festival founder Lori Shandro Outen. She has presided over the blossoming of the festival to more than 10,000 attendees with about 600 volunteers who help things run smoothly.

This year, 450 bands are scheduled to play during the festival's five days. More than 100 are local and five are associated with the Boise Rock School, an organization founded by musician Ryan Peck that teaches music to people of all ages.

Peck, who also spoke at the City Club event, said one of the greatest aspects of Treefort is its exposure of Treasure Valley's youth to a wide variety of music.

The festival allows those under 21 to participate in the city's music culture, something that the lack of an all-ages venue prevents them from doing the rest of the year.

For Treefort tickets, schedule and information, go to treefortmusicfest.com.

For more local news, follow the KBSX newsroom on Twitter @KBSX915

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