Island Park Festival fuels summer crowds

The first-ever Island Park Festival drew crowds of people to Sawtelle Mountain Resort over the weekend.

“We have 86 vendors from 14 different states,” said Jean Phillips, the producer and director of the festival.

“We have everything from wood carving to furs, to antlers, to crafts, … antiques … (and) lots of food. Black Swan’s giving a free night away. Sawtelle Lodge is giving a free night away. … For the kids, we have a fish pond, duck pond, (and) snow cones,” Phillips said.

Phillips and her husband, Boyd, are originally from the Burley and Rupert area but have a cabin here in Island Park. She’s been involved in event planning for more than 30 years.

Organizers estimate that a couple thousand people attended the event over the two days.

“The city is behind it. They’ve been very good to us,” said Jean Phillips.

The event was sponsored by the Sawtelle Mountain Resort, Connie’s Restaurant and High Mountain Adventures.

The Island Park Festival will be held again this year on Sept. 2 from 3 to 8 p.m. and Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

She encouraged members of the community to come visit them over Labor Day. “Come out and support and get things from the vendors,” said Phillips.

Phillips hopes to make the festivals annual events held every Pioneer Day and Labor Day weekend on Quakie Avenue next to Highway 20.

Cameron Dalley sold most of his inventory of furs at the festival. He traps nuisance animals and takes their hides to the tannery to preserve the fur.

“I trap most of the furs locally out of Idaho Falls,” Dalley said. “These are mostly nuisance ones, so if they’re raiding chicken coops or if they’re laying over … fruit trees, those are the ones that I take care of.” He still had a beaver and several fox pelts on hand.

Jeff Hackworth was another vendor selling custom carvings — bears, eagles, Native Americans, gnomes and unique benches — that he designs with a chainsaw in St. Anthony.

“I think that I’ve moved half of my inventory out.” Hackworth said, “It’s fun to see the people’s reactions… The kids are the funnest to watch, because they gotta come in, they gotta get their hands on it and they want to check it out.”

Other businesses catered to humankind’s four-legged friends.

“My business is Posh Pooch Dog Company, and I sell over-the-collar pet bandanas and other pet accessories,” said Michelle Blackburn.

“Other than the Rexburg Farmers market, this is the second event that I’ve done,” she said.

“I never thought that dog bandanas would be so popular, but when you realize how many people have dogs and love their dogs and want to make them look good too, it ends up being a really good niche,” said Blackburn.

The event attracted visitors from all over the region.

“It’s a cool little roadside attraction–pretty nice. These little communities do this for … Pioneer Day,” said Allen Lester of Idaho Falls.

Nancy and Pat Doyle have lived in Island Park for more than 40 years. They own Boondocks restaurant.

“They have a lot of variety — a lot of vendors. Most of the vendors are from Idaho which I like,” said Nancy Doyle. “It’s homemade things instead of the chain stuff. Sometimes you go to the fairs and they’re more of the franchise type of deals. But this has a lot of homemade, a lot of Idaho-themed. I think it fits in Island Park really well. I think it’s a great thing for the community.”

The festival featured coin collectors, Christmas advent calendars, hand-crafted furniture, metalwork, jewelry, paintings, clothing, quilts and intricate Native American beadwork.

Tina Crow represented Idaho Rocky Mountain Real Estate at the festival. She sells commercial, vacation homes and residential properties. “Our team’s been out here three years. We’ve just been building our business and selling Island Park,” she said. “It’s just so beautiful here. We meet just some wonderful people here. There’s so much to do. There’s a lot of activities that we can do, and the weather’s always fantastic.”

She said the beauty of the area draws people to Island Park. “Yellowstone Park draws a lot of people… They come out here to stay, rent property and buy property,” Crow said.

Nancy Doyle said that the summer festival reflects the growth that Island Park has experienced over the past several years.

“There’s so many summer people and a lot of new people. COVID really caused Island Park to get bigger,” Doyle said. “(It’s) the ‘Zoom Boom’ if you’ve heard that term … (with) all of the people that can work from home now and can be here.”

She hopes to come back to the Island Park Festival in the future.

“I’ll look forward to next year,” Doyle said.

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