When the town of Winnetka started to think about hosting a summer music festival, organizer Scott Myers knew whom to call for the most important element: the music. Val Haller started Valslist in 2007, so she had 10 years of experience connecting adults with new music through her website, app and, more recently, salon concerts held in her living room, backyard and area country clubs.
“Scott is the visionary,” says Haller. “He wanted to model this festival on the Appleton, Wis., Mile of Music, where the bands are playing throughout the town.” But Haller didn’t immediately sign on. “I said I’d only get involved if we could bring in national touring bands.” Her point was that local park districts program a lot of summer music featuring dad bands and cover bands, which are great fun but not what Haller wanted to promote. “My dream was to book bands that would pull in the 30- to 40-year-old parents who miss live music,” she says. Through generous local donations and sponsors, the free Winnetka Music Festival will have a kickoff concert the evening of Friday, June 23, with Michigan band The Accidentals and then nine bands playing Saturday on two stages. Plus, the fest will have all of the fun amenities one expects from an outdoor summer concert venue, including food trucks, craft beer, a kids stage and activities, and even local musicians (mostly high school students) busking throughout the town.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to curate a music festival,” says Haller. “So when the village came to me, it was such a compliment, and now I’m just so excited to see it all coming together.”