Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza: The Telethon

Word on the Street Issue 17, December 2021

It’s that time of year! The 16th annual Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza is coming to a livestream near you. Interfaith Sanctuary’s most important fundraiser of the year will be hosted virtually for the 2nd year in a row due to the pandemic. The Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza: The Telethon, sponsored by Boise State Public Radio, and hosted by Executive Director Jodi Peterson-Stigers and her husband, singer-songwriter Curtis Stigers, invites you into their family room for a 4-hour-long celebration featuring some of Boise’s most talented local artists.

This year’s Xtreme is more important than ever. The fundraiser makes up one-third of our annual operating budget and makes it possible for Interfaith to keep running. Our organization continues to stretch our services across four different shelter programs that are supported by 39 staff members. Even though we can’t see each other in person, we want you to feel the love and support of our entire community. During the Telethon you’ll be able to bid on auction items, sponsor nights of shelter, and help us keep doing the work we love.

This year’s event is 16 years in the making! Curious how it began?

Interfaith Sanctuary Executive Director Jodi Peterson-Stigers was the marketing director at the Boise Co-Op in 2006 when Victor Pacania, the founding host of Boise State Public Radio’s “Private Idaho” was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Pacania was a beloved host who had supported local musicians by always playing their music on air. When people learned that he didn’t have insurance, there was a rallying cry to help raise money for him. 

“At the time, the president of the Boise Co-Op, and the president told me there was a musician who just moved back into town named Curtis Stigers. He wanted Curtis to help me produce this fundraising event for Victor, so we did,” Peterson-Stigers said. “Curtis came up to me after and said that one of his musician friends used to do the Christmas Xtravaganza in New York with a bunch of famous Broadway singers. He asked if I wanted to do something like that here. I said yes, but I’m Jewish, so we made it the Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza!”

Jodi and Curtis hosted the first show at The Knitting Factory, raising $10,000 for a local nonprofit. Musicians, poets, and even Drunk Santa put on a rowdy show for the crowd. “It just started with a bang,” Peterson-Stigers said. 

They used that momentum to partner with 94.9 The River on its Concert for Cause, where listeners nominated an organization to receive the funding: Interfaith Sanctuary. That year, the event at the Morrison Center raised $25,000. The fundraiser for Interfaith became an annual event. The following year, they moved the Xtreme to its home at the Egyptian Theater, where they added a 2nd night, and then a 3rd, with tickets selling out within a week of being released. The third annual event raised $325,000 for the shelter.

“It became everyone’s holiday tradition,” Peterson-Stigers said. “The wonderful thing about this audience is that they have been extremely loyal to the cause. They wait for the announcement and will fly the family out for the holidays coinciding with the Xtreme and Christmas, so we’ve always tried to keep it that week before Christmas so that this can continue to be a family tradition.”

The auction has always been Xtreme and wonderful, made possible by artists and others in the community that donate their time for the cause. Dave Crick, one of the founders of Interfaith who owns Bittercreek Ale House & Red Feather Lounge, helps manage the sale of beverages each year. Chris Haunold, owner of Idaho Mountain Touring, donates two bikes that get auctioned on stage. Local musicians, Curtis included, donate house concerts that attendees can bid on, and countless others are part of the effort.

Historically about $100,000 of the money raised during the Xtreme is from people buying nights of shelter, one at a time. 

Last year’s Xtreme, produced in partnership with Channel 6 (KIVI-TV), featured videos by artists from around the world and performances by local musicians. This year, the Xtreme is going full local. Talented acts including Belinda Bowler, Bill Coffey, Steve Fulton, Steve Baker, Cathedral Collective, The Lonesome Jet Boat Ramblers, Timberline High School Jazz Choir, Jake Stigers, Cherie Buckner-Webb, Minor Paradox, Red Sea Ramblers, and Curtis Stigers will perform for viewers from the living room. And you never know – there might be a surprise visit or two!

Visit interfaithsanctuary.org to learn more.