| 03.17.2018

A history of jazz – Jazz Fest marks an important piece of history and culture for UI


The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival has a long and rich history, dating back to 1967 when the first University of Idaho Jazz Festival took place.

Since then, UI has hosted thousands of students, performers and other attendees for Jazz Fest, and the event has garnered national recognition. Regular guests return to Moscow year after year to witness four days of entertainment and education.

Erin Bamer

After nearly five decades of this tradition, by now Jazz Fest is a big part of UI”s culture. But it”s a piece of culture that is often ignored or even resented by the very lifeblood of the university itself – its students.

Many UI students barely even notice when Jazz Fest is taking place on campus. What they do notice is the sudden increase in Moscow”s population. Every year during Jazz Fest I always find at least one post on social media from a student who”s complaining about crowds or the sudden traffic or the lack of parking spots.

When students are more concerned with how the influx of people is a nuisance to them, they forget about why there is an influx in the first place.

This, of course, doesn”t include the students who perform, volunteer or at least sincerely care about Jazz Fest. There are some who do recognize the importance of the event for the community, but at this point it seems like these students are the minority.

It”s true that many events during Jazz Fest are catered to visitors rather than UI students, but that doesn”t give them an excuse to ignore one of the most significant annual events for the university. There are still events on the schedule that are available to students.

Some Jazz Fest events are open to the public, and students can attend many performances at a discounted price. Either way, the cost of not attending is bigger than what the cost is to be a willing spectator, because if students don”t go then they miss out on a great opportunity to make memories and enrich their college experience.

A UI student should make a point to attend a Jazz Fest event at least once during their college career, just to give it a chance. If they don”t, they will likely regret it in the future when they don”t have the access to incredible performances like they did when they were in school. Jazz fans aren”t the only people who can get something out of the amazing music at Jazz Fest – anyone can enjoy it.

Even if students choose not to go to the performances, they should at least respect the history and cultural impact Jazz Fest has on their community. This tradition is too important to be self-centered and focused on the negatives.

I”m done listening to people whine about waiting an extra 20 minutes to get a table at Gambino”s. Locals and the people of UI have access to these places all year. In fact, we should be glad when we see Jazz Fest attendees exploring the area.

Jazz Fest isn”t just an opportunity for visitors to enhance their musical education. It”s a chance for the community to showcase how great Moscow really is. But that won”t happen unless we all have good attitudes, because it is the people who make the town truly special.

Erin Bamer can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @ErinBamer

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