With 2020 in the rear view mirror, planners with the Downtown Partnership are cautiously optimistic about planning events for spring and summer of 2021.

Kristen Sackett, Marketing and Events Director for the Downtown Missoula Partnership said they are planning for any contingency.

“We’re in the space of planning,” said Sackett. “I know we're not in the space of ‘Oh, we have to cancel; sorry we have to cancel’. So we're definitely cautiously and optimistically moving forward with plans. Of course, in the current space that we're in, the events will look a little different. They're not going to be at a 2019 level, but they certainly aren’t going to be at 2020 levels.”

Sackett referenced two of the mainstays of Downtown Missoula, Out to Lunch in Caras Park and Downtown ToNight.

“With Out to Lunch and Downtown ToNight we are in the process of planning whether or not those names remain or if we come up with a slightly alternative fun name. We're not sure yet, but we at the very minimum we will have something, but they'll just look very much smaller than they usually are. So instead of 20 food vendors at each event, it's more like six to eight, or maybe 10. Instead of large bands that bring a dancing crowd, maybe it's an acoustic duo of some kind.”

One of the biggest single events in the summer is the River City Roots Festival, and Sackett said that particular event is a challenge to plan in the backdrop of a pandemic.

“That is probably our biggest challenge in terms of planning, because there are so many moving pieces to Root Fest and so many things to take into consideration when planning just in a normal time, forget about a pandemic. We are trying to come up with opportunities and alternatives. Will it look exactly like the Roots Festival of 2019? Probably not. But what are the things that we can do? We're still working on that.”

Sackett said there may be a repeat of the event held in the summer of 2020.

“I think at the very, very minimum, we'll do something similar to what we did last year, which was ‘Support your Roots Week’, and it's more of a marketing campaign,” she said. We encourage the community to look about and support the things that they love the arts, the river, the downtown businesses, you know, things like that.”

While the Higgins Bridge rehabilitation will continue throughout the year, the west side improvements are slated to be completed in early June, and the construction crew will then commence work on the east side of the bridge. Access to Caras Park will remain open from Pattee, Higgins, and Ryman, as well as Ron’s River Trail. Additionally, Mountain Line services will be operating with zero fare during both Out to Lunch and Downtown ToNight.


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