Big Sky is no stranger to big music festivals of all genres, from classical to folk to rock. Moonlight MusicFest is a festival of many genres, so the marriage of Moonlight and Big Sky just makes sense. 

"We're excited for a totally packed lineup, with headliners all day long," said LynnAnne Hagar, the executive director and organizer of Moonlight. "People should try to come early and stay late." 

The festival opens with bands local to Montana both days of the festival. Closing Friday night is St. Paul and the Broken Bones, who recently opened several dates for the Rolling Stones, and folk-rock band Trampled by Turtles, who have had three of its eight albums hit number one on the Billboard charts. Saturday night's closers are The Record Company and Blackberry Smoke. The Record Company has been nominated for a Grammy, and Blackberry Smoke has had two albums hit number one on the Billboard country charts. 

"[The audience] will be surprised by how much they love every band, no matter how different," said Hagar. "We like that it's diverse so we can expose people to different music that maybe they wouldn't have listened to otherwise." 

Of the 12 different ensembles performing at the festival, only one woman musician is playing the festival (that's Tanya Trotter, of The War and Treaty), though festival producer Tom Garnsey said that is "certainly not by design."

"We made offers to several other female artists this year that did not work out for one reason or another ... We aim to be inclusive on all manner of diversity in programming, and sometimes it tilts one way or the other," Garnsey said in an email. "Last year there were 4 females on the lineup."

Over 3,000 people attended that inaugural festival last year, said Hagar. She expects that number to grow this year, and continue growing in the years ahead. 

Aside from music, Moonlight will have between 15 and 20 food and merchandise vendors and a game area for kids. Hagar said the festival is having a "zydeco party" starting at noon on Saturday, where the first 300 people get free mardi gras beads and gumbo made by Cafe Zydeco in Bozeman. 

"We've had a great team working together to bring amazing music to Moonlight," said Hagar. 

Moonlight MusicFest takes place in Big Sky on Friday, Aug. 16 and Saturday, Aug. 18 in Big Sky. Information on shuttles, camping, and tickets is available at moonlightmusicfest.com