Boise's Creative Class Smashes All Your Sterotypes

Boise's Creative Class Smashes All Your Sterotypes
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This story appears in the August 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Treefort Music Fest began in 2012 as some music fans' passion project. It's since grown into a massive community event that celebrates Boise-grown technology, yoga, beer, food, comedy and film. Cofounder Lori Shandro Outen (who is also owner of local insurance agency the Shandro Group) explains what makes it so special.

What makes Boise a great place to be an entrepreneur?

The spirit of the people. The size of the community. The ability to effect change. I grew up in large cities, and I never felt there was anything I could do to effect change. 

A lot of things aren't perfect here, but there are enough of us who love what it is, and if we keep participating and doing what we love, I believe it will get even better.

That's not really the stereotype of Boise.
I think people expect boredom and small minds and a lack of much to do. And instead, it's green and lush and vibrant. There are plentiful things for everyone to do, and it's full of really nice people to do them with.

Treefort began by attracting bands en route to the Pacific Northwest after performing at South by Southwest in Austin. How did it come to include so many other disciplines?

We kept meeting people who felt the same way as we did about Boise and creativity, except about a different aspect -- yoga, film, technology, story. It was easy to fold them into our infrastructure and let them do and curate what they love. My favorite thing about Treefort is the collaboration across the disciplines. There is so much more crossover than we realize.

How has the festival changed Boise?
It's legitimized the creative class here. My father-in-law says that Idaho is for the doers. That's meant in the traditional sense -- people who can produce material, money-worthy things. But the creative class adds so much. Typically, creative people here have to work a “real” job before they can be creative. So now the question is, Can we provide opportunities for the creative class to earn a living year-round? 

Related: Entrepreneur Magazine's 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs

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