Festival History

Why a harmonica festival?

In 1989, Idaho Governor Andrus made a challenge to towns in Idaho to develop a celebration of statehood for 1990. Yellow Pine took on the challenge by creating the Harmonica Contest. Historically, the harmonica was carried by miners to their back woods claims to provide entertainment.

The festival was held the first weekend in August 1990. Initially the festival was supposed to be held one year. The popularity of this unique gathering has kept it going since. This event helped Yellow Pine create a recreation-based economy to support the area.

old festival photo
view of yellow pine from mountain

About Yellow Pine

Yellow Pine is a small community located in the backcountry of Valley County, Idaho. This unincorporated village has an active history dating back to 1900. It is a great place for new, outdoor experiences and making friends. Visitors can absorb the old-timey, backwoods feel of the village while enjoying some modern conveniences.

Yellow Pine is accessible all year to satisfy all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts and recreationalists. In addition to the harmonica festival, hosted events occur throughout the year with food, fuel, and lodging being available.

What events are offered at the festival?

The festival offers a diverse array of events throughout the weekend:

  • Live Music Performances – while the music covers all genres, the festival maintains 51% of performances involving the harmonica. The festival has three venue stages and local business also provide a forum for musicians to perform.
  • Harmonica Lessons –harmonica lessons are open to all ages and abilities. This includes children’s lessons, beginners, intermediate, and advanced. Future plans include a Master Class. All lessons are taught by professionals.
  • Race/Walk –The Great Harmonica Run has become a favorite event at the festival. Participation has doubled each year.
  • Live Demonstrations –Several different demonstrations are offered each year. Some are hands-on; others are up-close observance. Demos have included stone carving, wood carving, water color painting, fly tying, and fly fishing and casting.
  • Historical Presentations –in addition to having the Back Country Schoolhouse Museum available, the festival also offers locals telling stories of life in the Yellow Pine area, an antique gun collection display by Wally Cory and, Idaho history through songs and poems presented by Gary Eller.
  • Other Events include a live auction, raffles, community meals and a walking tour through the village.

Festival Structure

Economic Support and Growth

Focus on bringing funding to Yellow Pine and Valley County

Family-Friendly Entertainment

Events and opportunities for all ages

History & Tradition
  • Retain the harmonica focus
  • Provide demonstrations/events that link to the past
  • Keep the back-woods “feel” of Yellow Pine
  • Provide harmonica learning opportunities to all ages & abilities
  • Offer learning events to stimulate interest in skill-building and history
  • Support a safe, friendly environment for absorbing knowledge
Recreation & Tourism
  • Create multi-faceted event to appeal to recreationists of differing interests
  • Increase the number of new visitors to Yellow Pine
  • Generate interest in returning to this part of Idaho
johnson creek by yellow pine

The Future

Obtain lasting improvements for the festival and village including …

  • Purchase full production stages that allow for lighting, sound equipment, banner displays.
  • Replace existing, warped wooden benches with portable bleachers to enhance the audience comfort and allow for use at other village events.
  • Repair the foundation and exterior of the Community Hall that was built back in 1936.
  • Repair and improve the culverts and ditches within the village to control erosion and sediment run-off.

Create additional events and opportunities such as …

  • Develop winter activities in the area
  • Develop a long distance running event
  • Partner with area businesses to develop a triathlon