Butte, America: the home of the infamous pit, the infamous St. Patrick's Day parade, and the actually-famous Montana Folk Festival. Montana Folk Festival is gearing up for another year and, as always, will be totally free to attend.

"It's been a major tenant of the festival," said festival director George Everett of Folk Fest's admission-free policy. "Low-income people especially, if they want, they can come see some world class entertainment and not have to pay a penny for it." 

The festival runs from July 12-14 in Uptown Butte. Everett has been the organizer of the festival since it began 12 years ago, as the National Folk Festival. In 2011, the festival transitioned to the Montana Folk Festival, but Everett said it's "essentially the same."

"We can brag about it and say it's the biggest thing in Montana, but if you don't see it you'll never really believe that," he said.

Last year, around 165,000 people attended the festival. For a bit of context, Butte was home to just under 35,000 people in 2017.

"The population for the town grows by about five times," Everett said. "We just see this amazing surge of people from all over the place ... people have flown here from foreign countries to attend."

Montana Folk Festival features over 20 artists on six stages around Uptown Butte. Some standout headliners in the 2019 lineup are Led Kaapana, a Hawiian slack key guitar player, Yuliyana Krivoshapkina performing traditional Russian mouth harp, and Jasmine Bell and North Bear, performing Native American hoop dancing and drumming. More performances in the 2019 schedule include Irish traditional music, hip hop, traditional Italian and Crimean music and, of course, a whole lot of folk and Americana. In addition to the music, Folk Fest is the home of two art markets and a "folk life' demonstration area.

"It's a pretty rich, fine lineup," Everett said. "It's just really hard to describe the breadth of it all ... all the performers play like, three times, but you may miss them because there's something else going on."

In addition to the actual festival, Montana Public Radio broadcasts the main stage music live on Friday night and all day on Saturday.

"[MTPR] shares the signal with Spokane Public Radio," Everett said. "It goes to about a million listeners in Eastern Washington."

Full schedule, lineup and more information on Montana Folk Festival can be found at https://montanafolkfestival.com/