Saturday morning, 10 a.m.: the sun beats down as the first eager festival-goers swarm Expo Idaho.
The grounds are a dizzying swirl of color and noise. Giddy children scream from the Hayworth Family Carnival. Girls in bikinis with crowns of daisies in their hair line up for air-brush tattoos and Pronto Pups. The smell of barbecue mutton legs and fried donuts wafts down the fairway.
In every direction, throngs of ecstatic groupies gather to hear some local band or artist you had never heard of before today.
At Main Stage, earnest fans stake out spots with picnic blankets and camping chairs in anticipation of the day’s biggest acts.
“We’re here to see Train tonight,” said festival-attendee Sami Rice, a Meridian high-school student, making herself at home on an open patch of grass. The San Francisco-based rock band headlining the festival was due to perform at 8:15 that evening.
“We’ll be here all day,” Rice said.
This is Boise Music Festival 2014: seven stages, over 50 acts, and more than 80,000 fans.
Boise Music Festival (BMF) is an event organized by Townsquare Media, which owns and operates six local radio stations including pop music station, 103.5 KISS FM.
Townsquare Media also organizes live events throughout the greater Boise area.
“Boise Music Festival is one of the live events that we produce from scratch, in-house,” said Monchai Pungaew, the Marketing Director for Townsquare Media Boise.
According to Pungaew, big-name national acts like Train draw fans from all over the Northwest and attract sponsorships to help cover the cost of the festival.
Part of what makes BMF unique, however, is the exposure it provides for local artists.
“The Boise Music Festival is a great place for these up-and-coming talents to showcase their passion in front of 80,000 or more fans,” Pungaew told the Arbiter.
“For these performers, there’s nothing better than jamming in front of a live crowd.”
This is BMF’s fifth year running. Over the course of the single-day event, dozens of local acts performed on six different stages themed by musical genre, including the EDM and Acoustic Stage.
This year, the Main Stage featured an eclectic mix of nationally acclaimed performances, from the nostalgic Sir Mix-a-Lot to new indie sensation Fitz and the Tantrums.
“I don’t think you can beat MC Hammer,” said Chance Stewart, a festival-goer studying marketing at Boise State. “This year’s line up is pretty good though. It’s a solid mix.”
MC Hammer, best known for the song “U Can’t Touch This,” graced the BMF stage back in 2011.
Of course, the festival has a different draw for everyone.
“Train, rides, and Pronto Pups,” said Sydney Fuentes, a Boise State senior studying communication. “That’s what I came here for.”