Celebrating Creativity: 2023 Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman

For 46 years, the Sweet Pea Festival has captivated our community here in the Gallatin Valley. Taking place each and every August, this special 3-day event offers a chance for locals and travelers to take part in a tradition that's been in action for over 4 decades. From art shows to concerts & live performances, the Sweet Pea Festival is a wonderful way to celebrate the deeply knit community ties of an area that has always, and always will be, deeply creative! 

For our crew here at Montana Gift Corral, the Sweet Pea Festival is one of our favorite summertime events in Bozeman. Come celebrate with us as we delve into the history of this well-known event, and what makes it so special to this day!

The History of the Sweet Pea Festival

Bozeman has always been a town that nurtures creativity. From artists to outdoor adventurists, our community is a safe place for people to express themselves in more ways than one. This said, it's not a surprise that on April 13th, 1977, a group of creatives coining themselves the "hopeless optimists" banded together with an idea to create what would now be known as the very first annual Sweet Pea Festival in the Gallatin Valley. While they did have to postpone their passion project in 1977, they received a grant to host their event in 1978. Sweet Pea '78 was the official beginning of this beloved Bozeman community event!

From the very beginning, this 3-day extravaganza was a event that was intent on celebrating creativity. Even in '78 the Sweet Pea Festival resembled the event that we know and love today! There were dance workshops, artists selling their works, art exhibits, concerts, and you guessed it - even Shakespeare in the Parks! Like today, community events took place throughout town including Lindley Park, Bogert Park, Ellen Theater, Cooper Park, MSU, and the Willson Auditorium! 

Sweet Pea Festival Official Poster 2023

Congratulations to Joyce Folgert on winning the 2023 Sweet Pea Festival poster contest!

The Sweet Pea Festival Today

Fast forward to current times, Sweet Pea Festival week is an event that is cherished by so many community members. While the beginning days of this festival laid the ground work for a wonderful legacy, this event has grown immensely! Since the 1980s the Sweet Pea Festival has introduced fun events such as Chalk on the Walk, a 10K run, and of course - the incredibly fun Sweet Pea Parade!

Sweet Pea Parade

The Sweet Pea Festival Parade is hands down one of the biggest and most beloved parades in all of Montana! And guess what? It's not just for adults – they celebrate little ones too! The Sweet Pea Children's Run kicked off the parade, and boasted colorful floats all inspired by this year's theme: "Walking on Sunshine". Like last year, and one of our all-time-favorite additions to the Sweet Pea Festival, dogs were invited to join in on the fun during this years parade. Adorable pups from all over the Gallatin Valley proudly led the annual Sweet Pea Parade. Some even wore adorable outfits, like this friendly corgi, who had such a spunk that only the Sweet Pea Festival Parade could bring about. 

Dog Parade

Sweet Pea Festival Music and Arts

Every year, Sweet Pea Festival brings creative makers together in an honorable gathering for our community. Hundreds of volunteers come together to create an organized event full of activities and live music, while local and distant art vendors set up shop for the community to enjoy. From woodworking to mixed media artists, the vendors that are showing up for Bozeman's Sweet Pea Festival are unique, interesting, and full of creativity. To buy from a local artist or maker really makes a difference in the community we cultivate together and Sweet Pea Festival is bringing that opportunity to Bozeman each and every year. 


Alongside the Sweet Pea Festival market of artistic and talented vendors are the live music, theatric, and dance attractions. From ballet and performance arts, to bands, singer-song writers, and performances of the theater arts, Sweet Pea Festival is a culmination of every brilliant form of expression local to Montana. This year, we see amazing opportunities like Shakespeare in the Parks, Yellowstone Ballet Company, and many a talented band on the lineup for the festival. 

Shakespeare in the Parks

Sweet Pea Festival keeps alive the importance of artistic expression. It is far too common for the artists and makers to be ignored in a community while other opportunities like sports are made to be the priority. What we love and cherish about Sweet Pea Festival is they prioritize arts and community, reminding us that if the community doesn't support the arts, we could lose them completely. Most importantly, Sweet Pea Festival is a non-profit organization. All of the profits raised by this amazing festival of the arts is put right back into the community in the form of grants for the arts, art education, and special projects in the Bozeman area. 

When you buy a Sweet Pea Festival wristband, you are supporting an artistic and expressive community that values creative experiences for all. When you buy from local vendors in the Sweet Pea Festival, you are choosing to use your money as a vote for local artists and makers. While you are in the festival, you are creating a world that is small yet mighty. Be a part of the community this year, support artists and makers, indulge in locally made foods, and dance your heart out to live music, because at the Sweet Pea Festival, you make a difference. 


Written by: Alexa Jorgenson, MGC Content Creator & Haven Windsor, MGC Content Creator

Blog Cover by: Averi Thompson, MGC Graphic Designer

Photography courtesy of: Sweet Pea Festival



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