Treefort: A Forest of Forts 

When you get a shout out from the president of the United States—as Hackfort did during Barack Obama’s visit in 2015—you’re doing something right.

Courtesy Treefort

When you get a shout out from the president of the United States—as Hackfort did during Barack Obama’s visit in 2015—you’re doing something right.

click to enlarge With Kidfort, even Boise’s youngest citizens get to be a big part of the TFM community. - COURTESY TREEFORT
  • Courtesy Treefort
  • With Kidfort, even Boise’s youngest citizens get to be a big part of the TFM community.

Building Community

In its first year, Treefort Music Fest kicked off with about 130 local and touring musical acts playing at venues across downtown Boise for four days. Had it simply maintained, it probably would have became a niche event or died altogether. Now in its sixth year, the festival runs five days, the number of bands and musicians performing has nearly doubled and the cultural offerings have increased almost exponentially, which has broadened its appeal. At Boise Weekly, describing an event as having "something for everyone" is verboten—it's trite (and lame) and unachievable. However, Treefort might damn well be the exception.

"We think about the user experience," said TFM Executive Producer John Michael Schert, adding that by expanding its scope—adding new "forts"—Treefort has become a "five-day adventure," created by combining local talent with big names in music and other creative fields.

"We want to elevate the local scene but stay true to it ... [so] we pair what's happening locally with what's happening nationally," Schert said, like bringing in award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, who will prepare a special (sold-out) dinner as part of the popular Foodfort (the only fort developed from within the organization), which debuted last year.

"Foodfort brought new people out—people who thought 'There's nothing for me at Treefort,'" Schert said. "But there was," he added, smiling.

With a continuing influx of ideas and audiences, TFM has evolved into a "celebration of Boise," which now includes Alefort, Comedyfort, Filmfort, Foodfort, Hackfort, Skatefort, Storyfort, Yogafort and Performance Art and more, with events happening across downtown from Reef to JUMP and myriad places in between.

Below, we've highlighted a mere fraction of what TFM 2017 has to offer—find more on the music on Page 17—but we would like you to know, in spite of how we feel about the phrase, the festival just might actually have something for everyone. Visit or download the app, and you'll see what we mean.


This is one of Treefort Music Fest's premier sub-forts, and for good reason. Boise has a long tech tradition dating back to the early days when companies like Micron and Hewlett-Packard moved to town. More recently, Boise State University's computer science program split sheets with the College of Engineering, shacking up in City Center Plaza inches from Clearwater Analytics. Hackfort has been a fellow traveler to Boise's expanding tech sector, and this year's events may compose the most ambitious slate since the sub-fort's founding, including a live FiveThirtyEight podcasting event featuring political and sports prognosticator Nate Silver; a presentation by Alex Hackford, whose creative music work for Sony Playstation has appeared on Gran Turismo, God of War and The Last of Us; Sabrina Jacques of Ubisoft and many, many more at Jack's Urban Meeting Place—just blocks east of the main Treefort Music Fest action.


click to enlarge Get lit with local and nationally known luminaries at Storyfort. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Get lit with local and nationally known luminaries at Storyfort.

This fort, now in its fourth year, is so packed with programming, it would take a book to list every event. Organizer and renowned local author Christian Winn said collaborating with other forts is a big part of this year's Storyfort.

"We have a lot of crossover," he said, with Yogafort and Hackfort, for example: There will be a discussion on the mythology of yoga and one about writing for video games. "We also have workshops, young adult readings, refugee stories, stories from bouncers, and we're bringing in some incredible talent," he added, with big names like slam poet G. Yamazawa. Storyfort will also explore the zeitgeist with a panel—joined by BW Staff Writer Harrison Berry—on "fake news" and the media landscape.


The first (and most important) thing to know about Filmfort is that all of its events—panel discussions, 10 feature films and a barrelful of shorts—will be showcased at The Owyhee. You could slip into a coma from an overdose of movies, but we suggest a few must-see highlights: Stronger Shines the Light Inside/Rita. Photographer Angie Smith, who chronicled Boise's refugee community in an acclaimed 2016 public art display will help present filmmaker Ron Torres' documentary Rita, starring a Congolese refugee now resettled in Idaho.

"Finding Your Cinematic Voice" is a discussion with a panel of filmmakers with Gem State ties, including two-time Oscar winner Terry Sanders, who share their inspirations.

6 Dynamic Laws for Success in Life, Love & Money. Though still a work in progress, this is the much-anticipated film noir/dark comedy from director Gregory Bayne. We've seen a preview, and it's pretty great. Filmfort passholders get priority access to all films. Single screening tickets will be available at the door.


will make you laugh until you cry with funny folks Caitlin Gill, Dulce Sloan and Will Weldon joining local laughmakers Emma Arnold, Lady Bizness, Kaz Gable and many more, while

will feature a full schedule of sumptuous samples as well as discussions on everything from Boise's cider industry and putting Boise on the culinary map and the ladies 
click to enlarge MEG KAHNLE
  • Meg Kahnle
of local craft beer.

Yogafort has events for mind, body and spirit, including a dance battle and yoga-themed paintings by local artist Meg Kahnle, while Kidfort provides entertainment and education for Boise's youngest citizens. Alefort will highlight the best Boise brewers have to offer and Strengthfort, the newest kid on the block, will have hands-on, old-timey strength challenges.


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