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Montrose Music Festival elevates arts and culture in small towns

This interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

The Montrose Music Festival aims to connect small towns and elevate arts in rural communities. Organizers say it's more than a music festival. It's also a community festival.

Musician Matt Fockler says small communities outside of Sioux Falls often struggle to take care of basic infrastructure. They're consolidating schools and losing grocery stores and swimming pools.

He hopes the Montrose Music Festival can be a rallying point for rural towns to come together and support each other. All money raised will be used to fund the Montrose city pool, park, campground and next year's festival.

Musicians are invited to come with their instruments and join a song circle.

"I think we have a closet musician capitol of the world here and there's a lot of great players that never bring their guitar out of the house. I'm trying to create an atmosphere," Fockler said. "The only rule is one song at a time, clockwise, and if there's an empty seat anyone can sit in it."

Austin, Texas, musician J Wagner will participate in the festival.

"It's about how music used to be," Wagner said. "You'd bring the guitar and you'd hear what the song sounded like before the reverb got added. The rawness of it."

The Montrose Music Festival runs July 29-31. Attendance is free but a ticketed event is scheduled for Saturday night. You can learn more about featured musicians, the schedule, and camping options on the Montrose Music Festival website.

Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.
Carl Norquist is a producer and writer for In the Moment. An EMMY-winning producer, Carl previously worked for KTIV News 4 in Sioux City, IA. Carl is a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana University with majors in Art and English.