Yellow Pine Rocks Tiny Idaho This Weekend

By Tom Bacon

Summer music festivals abound in the Inland Northwest. But a tiny hamlet in the mountains of central Idaho boasts a showcase this weekend for a unique instrument - the pocket harp. OK, so pocket harp is just an archaic name for an instrument almost every kid knows - the harmonica.

For 25 years now, not including the time in 2007 when fire storms roaring down the hills forced cancellation of the festival, the tiny burg of Yellow Pine, Idaho has hosted one of the world's largest harmonica events - first, as a world-championship competition, and now a family-oriented festival.
This weekend, Yellow Pine's population will mushroom a thousand-fold. There are 32 people living there (44 if you count the entire Zip Code). The annual festival will attract about 3-thousand people to hear top players,harmonica bands, lessons and even harmonica master classes.

On Friday and Saturday mornings, the festival opens with walking music parades, which anyone with a harmonica can join, ending with harmonica jam sessions. Both days will end with concerts by the headliner stage band called Stellar Tide. And late night jam sessions.

Yellow Pine is in Valley County Idaho, near….well, it's not really near anything. It's so remote that residents warn visitors not to trust their GPS devices. If you're on a paved road, you're lost. It's about 50 miles east of McCall, and 65 miles from Cascade Lake.

There is an airport nearby. It's a 3,500 foot grass, backcountry strip. It's mowed regularly.
There aren't many rules in the Yellow Pine pocket harp festival, but a couple are strictly enforced.

First - No fires. No fires of any kind will be allowed. Second - bring your pocket harp.
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