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By Andi Bourne

Bob Marshall Music Festival Creates Division


SEELEY LAKE – While organizers and many people in the community were excited about the Bob Marshall Music Festival, others raised issues that they felt need to be addressed and clarified. Seeley Lake resident and business owner Curtis Friede not only took personal issue with the festival being held in the middle of town, he also sees the event dividing the community in several ways.

Friede lives on the top of the hill to the east of the Seeley Lake Elementary school where the three-day festival was held. He said that for anyone who lived on the hill to the east of the school it was “obnoxiously loud. It was in the same category as fireworks.” He said the noise carried on until 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning and he moved to his basement to try to get sleep Saturday night.

Friede feels it was a good event to get people into town. However, he said, with the type of people the event drew, those that camped and brought most of their food with them, the event was more of a liability than a financial asset to the community.

“It would be different if every one of those people was trying to rent a room, eating in the restaurants, buying all their stuff here and the noise was shut off, let’s be realistic, even midnight on Saturday night and eleven on Friday night,” said Friede who acknowledged that he has not yet talked with the business owners to see how their weekend compared to past years without the festival.

Friede said the festival is dividing the community for several reasons. First, half the community does not like the noise and all the stuff that the festival brought with it while the other half enjoyed it and doesn’t mind alcohol on school grounds and people using the restroom wherever they choose.

Friede thinks another division comes from how the festival proceeds, if there were any, was tied to Seeley Lake Elementary School’s outdoor program.

“It isn’t helping academically, it’s supporting extra-curricular activities for kids,” said Friede who acknowledged the importance of activities for kids. “[The problem is] the only activities that they are doing for the kids [in the outdoor program] are non-motorized. Immediately you have half the community irritated and half the community OK with it.”

The paddle board race held Saturday morning exemplified this division between motorized and non-motorized recreationists. According to Friede, people out in boats that were recreating and watching the race were told by those on paddle boards to get off the lake for the race.

“[Non-motorized users] already took [Lake Alva] away from the community [when it was changed to non-motorized]. Why don’t you go have your paddleboard race on the lake that is already your own, private paddleboard lake and leave us alone in Seeley Lake. Those are the types of feelings and emotions that are brought out,” said Friede.

Finally, Friede took issue with how organizers advertised how the proceeds of the event were being used. On the festival website it says, “All proceeds benefit local school and community educational programs.”

“I guess that is true but it is misleading,” said Friede. He explained that the funding is for youth activities and for the SLE Outside store, that is sponsored by grants, school money and in his opinion violated child labor laws because it is a retail business.

“They opened the store to supposedly teach kids the benefit of business. How can they teach kids business when no one at the school knows anything about business,” said Friede. “And number two, how can you run a business if you don’t have payroll and you don’t have unemployment insurance and health care and workers’ comp and everything else. Every other business in town has to pay it. You don’t have a business [the way SLE Outside is being run]. You have a hobby. And the hobby is being supported by the taxpayer.”

Friede thinks that had there been more community outreach in the planning stages of the event, there would have been more input and a lot more questions would have been asked. No one was told how much noise and congestion it would bring or that roads would be closed for the races.

“I appreciate the fact that they did something,” said Friede. “I don’t appreciate the fact that they didn’t let the community in on what they were doing and how much stuff was going to be involved in this. Next year, they can have the festival somewhere but I don’t think it needs to be held in the middle of Seeley Lake.”


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