Taj Weekes

The Mount Helena Music Festival returns this summer after a one-year hiatus.

For two days of back-to-back music in an intimate outdoor setting, people won’t want to miss the 14th annual Mount Helena Music Festival and Art Mart in Helena.

The music and art festival will be held in Helena’s Women’s Park at 500 N. Fuller Ave. on June 28–29.

Jim McHugh said the festival he started 14 years ago has grown into a popular event.

“It’s one of the finest, small festivals in the Northwest as far as independent music,” McHugh said.

It’s a multi-genre event that features bluegrass, country rock, blue, reggae and even some international music. The bands and musicians that play at this festival aren’t household names but are true national touring bands that play at many big festivals across the country, McHugh said.

The inspiration for starting this festival in Helena came to McHugh when he attended Summerfest in Milwaukee several years ago. McHugh enjoyed the variety of music at this large event, and he wanted to create another version on a much smaller scale.

McHugh, who is the executive director of the Helena Business Improvement District, said the performers also enjoy playing at the Helena festival.

“It’s well regarded by the musicians, because they appreciate playing a smaller venue where they can interact with the audience,” he said.

The venue is set up with two alternating stages. McHugh said there’s no “downtime” between the sets, because one band can set up on one stage while the other is performing on the other stage.

This year’s festival is expected to feature nine bands with diverse musical styles. As of press time, the lineup hadn’t been announced.

There will also be 100 food and arts and crafts vendors, as well as a beer garden.

McHugh said admission to the event is going to be a little different this year. People are welcome in with a minimum donation of $10 and two canned goods.

For information call 406-447-1535.