It’s safe to assume most folks roamin’ the streets of downtown Boise this weekend are here for the town’s local Treefort Music Festival.

[half]This festival, currently celebrating its 4th year, brings Boise an absolute saturation of amazing live music.

But a few moments of wandering inside the event — which runs through most of the downtown area (roughly a mile from one end to the other) — and it’s clear this festival is about much more than great performances. The organizers have made a strong and successful effort at featuring many other points of interest like Storyfort, Yogafort, and Comedyfort.

And in true Treefort fashion, in an effort to whet the diverse appetite of attendees, 2015 was the event’s second year hosting Hackfort. This facet of the festival is a three-day long event running Thursday through Saturday. Participants can either choose to attend separately from the main music festival ($20 for all three days), or be granted free access with the purchase of their festival pass.

From keynote lectures to coding-competitions, Hackfort organizers have done an excellent job at providing a platform for sharing tech-based interests, and resulting interest in this year’s Hackfort has been massive. Every keynote and convention our team attended was packed, and especially one convention called Hackathon.

Hackathon ran Friday through Saturday and encouraged groups to build web and mobile apps that would benefit the Boise community. All groups were given access to the same city-wide data and were encouraged to establish partnerships with other platforms like Yelp.com or mapping software. One of our personal favorite ideas was called Datefort, a date-idea generator where through pulling geographical data and partnering with Yelp, folks could enter in a time and area of town, select date-category options like ‘hike,’ ‘dinner,’ or ‘taffy pulling,’ (my personal suggestion, not yet included in the app) and immediately receive a list of date ideas.[/half]

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I really wanted to know how Hackfort achieved such hearty attendance while still so young, as well as where the event’s organizers see it going in the future. N&C’s Carey Silverstein and I sought the chance yesterday to gain that insight by speaking with Jordan Noël Hawkes, a particularly bad ass gal who’s been running Hackfort since its inception.

Jordan explained that there’s currently a quickly growing tech industry in Boise, but until the beginning of Hackfort there wasn’t ever a local space for folks to join together with ideas and knowledge. The characteristically savvy Treefort organizers began talking about all the benefits such a gathering could bring, not only to the local tech industry but to the community at large, and decided to run a pilot Hackfort event as part of last year’s festival.

Interest was high during that first year, but attendance was moderate. As is often the case with pilot programs, folks displayed hesitation to jump on board right away. But! The event nailed it so hard that the buzz immediately following the event resulted in some serious widespread appeal: an appeal so strong that the very next year– this weekend– Hackfort had triple the attendance.

And the techie fun is only going to amp up as the years continue. There are rumors it may have even more limited space in the future, so be sure to get your tickets early if you want to build a Hackfort with us next year!

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