Volunteers prepare for summer festivals


BOZEMAN, Mont. - One of Bozeman's biggest and oldest festivals kicks off Friday. On Thursday, dozens of volunteers could be found in Lindley Park getting ready for Sweet Pea.

Early Thursday morning, crews were already hard at work assembling stages, booths and tents for the hundreds of vendors and performers at this weekend's Sweet Pea Festival.

"It takes an amazing amount of manpower to make this happen," said Robyn Miller, chair of Sweet Pea physical arrangements.

Miller oversees the build-up and tear-down of the festival. She and everyone else at Lindley on Thursday were volunteers.

"It's our job to give back to our community," said Miller, "to help create the atmosphere where you want to live."

Sweet Pea began as a carnival in the early 1900s and was revived as an arts festival in the late 1970s.

Miller says it cost about $260,000 to put on this year's festival.

Miller explained, "Sweet Pea is a festival for the people, by the people. There are so many people that are involved that help to put this together."

Dozens of volunteers donate hundreds of manhours every year to get the festival ready.

Mike Vogel and his wife Christel are first-time volunteers. They say they're excited to be a part of the Bozeman tradition.

"We just recently retired and saw an opportunity to volunteer with a local event and thought this would be a good way to spend some time," said Mike Vogel.

The Vogels say everyone's working together like a well-oiled machine.

Christel Vogel told us volunteering is a, "Very rewarding experience in terms of meeting people you might not see otherwise during the year."

Miller says it's not just the volunteers who set up that make Sweet Pea possible, but also the vendors, artists and musicians who help draw the crowd.

"People look forward to this weekend. I just think it's a great opportunity for Bozeman to come together as a community," said Miller.

Sweet Pea isn't the only arts festival happening in Bozeman this weekend.

The Support Local Artists and Musicians -- or SLAM -- Festival is gearing up for it's fourth year.

Held at Bogert Park August 2 and 3, the festival celebrates the artistic talents of Montana residents.

This year over 50 artists will showcase painting, photography, sculptures and more, and 25 performers will be on stage to entertain visitors.

"Giving them an opportunity to sell their wares and sell their art and also showcase their music. And basically it's about the state of Montana and being proud of those folks that are involved with that and giving them that platform," explained SLAM co-Director Salal Huber-McGee.

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