Out to Lunch & Downtown ToNight Launch June 6 & 7

For the 33rd consecutive year, the Missoula Downtown Association (MDA) has developed a vibrant and robust Out to Lunch Summer Series to commence on Wednesday, June 6. The MDA is also launching the Downtown ToNight Summer Series for the 18th consecutive season on Thursday, June 7. All 26 admission-free events will be held in Caras Park, Missoula’s Town Square in the heart of Downtown.

The brainchild of Pat Simmons, MDA’s first-ever paid employee, the Out to Lunch Summer Series is held each Wednesday in June, July and August from 11 am-2pm. The outdoor music and food festival is the longest-standing in the state of Montana and features live music, children’s activities and authentic and local food and beverage offerings from 20 food trucks and vendors.

Launching the 2018 season for Out to Lunch will be Missoula’s own Zeppo Blues Band. A six-piece, old-school, rhythm and blues band, Zeppo Blues is headed by Peter Barberio and features Paul Philips, Jordan Demander, Ty Nuno, Russ Parson, Eric Minton and Tim Larum, most of whom have been playing together for 35+ years. Some of their most inspiring mentors include Greg Allman, Otis Redding, the Neville Brother and the Radiators. For more information on the Zeppo Blues Band, call Barberio at 406-549-1502.

Created in 2001 to meet a high-rising demand in Downtown Missoula, the Downtown ToNight Summer Series takes place each Thursday in June, July and August from 5:30-8:30 pm, also in Caras Park. In addition to live music, playtime for kids, and food trucks galore, Downtown ToNight also offers adult beverages for those ages 21 and older.

Opening the 2018 season is Trego, a blossoming six-piece Americana Rock Band from Spokane, Wash. Formerly known as Folkinception, this six-piece band was voted the Best Original Band in the Inlander’s Readers’ Poll in both 2017 and 2018. For more information on Trego, contact Patty Groenen (patty@tregoband.com).

“Each week throughout the summer, these weekly celebrations bring our community together in the heart of Missoula for lively conversation, connection, food trucks, fun, live music, local beer, wine and spirits, family activities and the experience of Missoula’s culture,” said Brooke Redpath, President of the MDA Board of Directors. “Our weekly offerings are the base of the Missoula arts and culture scene, and they are very popular for folks of all ages.”

Nearly 120 different bands from across the country applied to perform at Out to Lunch and Downtown ToNight this year. Close to 150 distinct Missoula-area businesses and non-profit organizations are supporting the outdoor food and music festivities with their time, talent and treasure. Business sponsorships and vending fees cover the hard costs, so the mid-week events remain admission free for all.

“Our weekly summertime events are a big draw for Missoula, and they are the base of our arts and culture scene,” said Linda McCarthy, Director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership. “Downtown communities across the country model these events, knowing they serve as an economic driver for city-center activities and commerce. Out to Lunch and Downtown ToNight are a great way to experience all Downtown has to offer.”

Each week more than 20 food vendors and food trucks will provide a wide variety of food and beverage offerings for sale. New vendors this year are Dobi’s Teriyaki, Five on Black, Mountain Berry, River City Eats, and Two Crows Tacos. Other food trucks are Baskin Robbins, Big Dipper, Big Thai Country, Bitterroot Bison, Clove Cart, Covered Wagon, El Cazador, Ina’s Indian Tacos, Isla’s, Just BBQ, Lil’ Orbits, the Noodle Wagon, Pagoda, Pattie Wagon, Sa Wad Dee, Taco Sano, and Vietnam Noodle. In addition, guest vendors will be featured during special events. In 2017 vendors sold close to $360,000 in food and beverages.

Folks interested in purchasing food and beverages for their employees or guests can pre-purchase Caras Cash in $5.00 increments at the Downtown Missoula Partnership Office (218 E. Main), which can be used to purchase food and beverage from any of the vendors and food trucks at the events.

For the first-time ever, the Out to Lunch Trolley will offer free rides to Caras Park each Wednesday from Splash Montana (3001 Bancroft). The trolley has always run up and down Higgins Avenue during Out to Lunch free of charge and will continue to stop for those on Higgins Avenue. Additionally, Zero-Fare Mountain Line busses all come Downtown, so you can ride any of the routes to the Transit Center, which is just four blocks from Caras Park.

There are lots of public parking spaces throughout Downtown Missoula, and the first hour of parking is free in the Central Park Garage (128 W. Main) and the Park Place Garage (201 E. Front). Parking is free evenings and weekends, so there is no charge to park in Downtown Missoula during the Downtown ToNight Summer Series. It’s also easy to bike and walk to and throughout Downtown Missoula, and there are plenty of bike racks throughout the city center.

The Passport Parking APP is another easy and convenient way to pay for parking from your office, car or while in the park. Just download the Passport APP, load up your credit card, and enjoy the convenience of paying with a cell phone.