Music on Main: Director Ellie Staley Gives us the Scoop
There’s nothing quite like the onset of summer in Bozeman, Montana. The spring rains slowly dry up, the sun stays up a little longer, and the feeling of how fleeting the season is begins to settle in. With it comes a strong sense of FOMO and the to impulse to soak up every second of it you can before it’s gone. And there’s no better way to do just that than make your way to Music on Main every Thursday night when the warm months hit.
Setting the Stage
As one of Bozeman’s biggest attractions of the year, Music on Main is a production that any local or traveler would be seriously sorry to miss. But there’s something more to Music on Main than simply being outside during the summer. The event is uniquely magical, buzzing with a sense of community and town comradery that is hard matched at any other event in town.
That magic is no accident. It is rather the hard work of our DBA (Bozeman Downtown Alliance) and the partners they connect with every year. Contrary to popular thought, Music on Main is whipped together by the DBA as opposed to the city. This $50,000 a year endeavor is made possible by the community partners and sponsors that work each year with the DBA to make the magic happen. From donating hotel rooms, to porta-potties and everything in between, their loyal partners really do have their back. And while the event is a combined effort of man, you can find DBA Director, Ellie Staley, behind the wheel.
A Show for Everyone
We got to sit down with Ellie to talk about what the event means to her, the community, and get a little glimpse behind the curtain. When asked why she thinks the event is so special, Ellie has more than a few reasons up her sleeve. “We’ve created a free community event that welcomes everyone and allows anybody to participate,” she says. And she’s not kidding. With a whopping 4,000 folks making their way to Music on Main, the event attracts nearly 10% of the town’s population each week. And from the music, they select, to the food trucks that show, there truly is something for everyone.
When it comes to families, Music on Main is a win for the whole gang. “There aren’t a lot of free kid’s activities in town,” Ellie explained. With Music on Main, they’ve created an atmosphere that allows parents to come down and entertain the kids for free while enjoying a drink and leisure time with their neighbors. With the street being closed, it creates a safe environment where parents can relax and connect without having to worry about the risk to their kids.
Bringing in the Business
At the same time, they’ve put an extensive amount of time into attracting a diverse crowd of all ages. Whether it’s selecting bands with a universal appeal from the hundreds that apply, to striving to bring in the food trucks they know people love most, they’re really got everyone on their mind. Young and old alike can dance to the upbeat music or stroll in and out of the restaurants and bars that open their doors to the city.
For Ellie, that commerce side of things that really carries weight, because she sees the value that the event brings to downtown business. “The economic side of Music on Main is huge,” she tells us. Since the DBA throws the event for free, they don’t collect on things like ticket, alcohol or food sales. That means that all of the cash flow happening at the event goes directly to the local businesses themselves.
And with over 4,000 attendees, Music on Main is a major business opportunity for those opening their doors. From the owners to the servers, to the independent food trucks, the business that the event generates starts early and lasts well past the time it wraps up.
What Else We Can Look Forward To
While the Music on Main will be coming to a close mid-August, Ellie reassures us there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming months. Some of her favorites? Both the Art Walk (starting in August) and Ladies Night (in min-November) have her jazzed for what the cooler months will bring.
“The Art Walk just brings together art lovers of every demographic and type of art medium.” And if you’ve ever attended one, you certainly know what she’s talking about. There’s no lack of style, price range, or buyer persona at the event, making it truly something for everyone. Most of all, Ellie appreciates the way that local businesses have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into participating in the event—from sourcing local artists to creating a space that welcomes everyone.
And Ladies Night is no different. “Our local businesses realize they get out what they put in,” she explains. With this understanding has come an incredible symbiotic relationship that has resulted in some truly incredible events for downtown and our entire Bozeman community.
So, to wrap it up, make sure you head downtown for the last Music on Main of the season, this Thursday, August 15th from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. And keep your event eyes peeled for what is to come with the DBA and nights out in the coming months. And if you have any friends and family coming into town for any of the Downtown Bozeman events, remember that the RSVP Motel is close to all the action going on in the BZN.
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