Montana residents are defined by their unique character and an attitude that is focused on getting the most of life through experiences rather than possessions. When it comes to events that provide a unique experience, Montana has a lot to offer. Montana’s small town populations have always been able to provide a good time and the events they feature do a great job portraying Montana’s character. You may not have heard of some of these events but keep your calenders open as these events listed in chronological order should be at the top of your bucket list if you want to experience the true character of Montana!
1. Virginia City WinterFest – February 16
If the historic content surrounding Virginia City is not enough incentive for an interesting and educational trip to southwest Montana, Winterfest events include a very unique broomball tournament, a two-man log-sawing contest, kids sledding, snowmobiling activities and any other exciting events the wonderful people of this town can think of (2014 featured dog wheel barrel races, fire hose rolling competitions, and of course drinking).
2. Miles City Bucking Horse Sale- May 14-17
The Miles City Bucking Horse Sale is a major auction of rodeo stock held the third weekend every May in Miles City. This event attracts rodeo stock contractors from the United States and Canada who are looking for saddle bronc, bareback bronc and bucking bull prospects. The rodeo culture that accompanies this event makes it the premier social event for the community. Known as a Cowboy Mardi Gras this weekend’s events include a parade, a concert, a horse racing meet, a bull riding rodeo and a number of other social activities. Although this may be the only time eastern Montana makes this list, The Miles City Bucking Horse Sale proves eastern Montana still has an exciting Montana experience to offer.
3. Headwaters Country Jam: Bridge near Three Forks, MT – June 25-27
Headwaters Country Jam was created to bring live country music in a festival atmosphere to Montana and the Northwest. The festival is held at the venue known as The Bridge, near Three Forks. Live music from national and local acts plays all day and into the night. The three-day festival has brought in high caliber stars including Eric Church, Montgomery Gentry, The Charlie Daniels Band, Eli Young Band, Dustin Lynch, Tracy Lawrence, Sammy Kershaw, The Bellamy Brothers, Pat Green, Lonestar, Emerson Drive, John Anderson, Joe Diffie, Mark Chesnutt and many more. Besides the live music, festival-goers can enjoy horse shoe tournaments, dance contests, karaoke, mechanical bull riding as well as food and merchandise vendors.
4. Fort Benton Summer Celebration – June 26-28
Montana’s “birthplace” community knows how to celebrate! Selected As Montana’s Event of the Year, Fort Benton’s annual celebration of its heritage has scheduled activities that include a parade, arts and crafts on the Levee, the Missouri River Traders Market, historical tours, free entertainment, street dance, fishing derby and a fireworks display on the Levee. There is always plenty of food and fun to be had. With room to camp overnight, take a tour of old Fort Benton and celebrate this upcoming summer.
5. Augusta Rodeo – June 29th
This is one of the largest one-day rodeos in Montana. The annual Augusta Rodeo features a parade and rodeo. Located under the Rocky Mountain Front, Augusta is in close proximity to the Bob Marshall Wilderness as well as many other recreational areas. Visiting the Augusta rodeo and surrounding areas is a great way to turn a weekend into a beautiful and unforgettable experience!
6. Darby Logger Days – July 17-18
The Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana comes alive with a timber sports event that makes for an awesome experience for the whole family. Seventeen traditional logging competitions have been scheduled, including axe throwing, pole climbing, log roll and cross-cut sawing. Every year this family-oriented weekend draws thousands of enthusiastic onlookers and expert competitors. Also included are plenty of activities for the little Lumberjacks. Other features of Logger Days include family games, live music and a parade.
7. Bannack days – July 19-20
Return to the early days in Montana’s history with a celebration of mining and life in Montana’s first territorial capital. Located at the ghost town of Bannack in southwest Montana, this interactive event allows visitors to take part in a wagon ride, candle making and gold-panning. Along with main street gunfights, old time dancing, pioneer craft demonstrations and lots of music and family fun, this event creates an experience that is hard to be found anywhere else. Bannack Days awakens this old ghost town with life and offers plenty to do and see for the entire family.
8. Evel Knievel days: Butte – July 23-25
No Montanan embodies the wild spirit of Montana more than Evel Knievel. From July 23-25th, Evel’s hometown of Butte will host Evel Knievel Days. The celebration will feature a huge array of exciting events including: a parade, poker run, social, fireworks, live music, dare-devil stunts, vendors and a classic motorcycle & car show. The event is timed to attract riders on their way to Sturgis and any other visitors/locals of Montana. Evel Knievel inspired a nation for years with his daredevil stunts. Come feel the excitement in Butte, MT the place where Evel took his first jumps, honed his nerves of steel, and got started in the daredevil business.
9. Huckleberry Festival: Trout Creek – August 14-16
Don’t miss the upcoming 36th annual Huckleberry Festival located at Trout Creek, MT. Every year people flock to taste and purchase these magical berries that are native to Montana. Food vendors feature the tasty “purple gold” in huckleberry ice cream cones, on cheesecake, in drinks, and even atop Polish dogs. Scheduled events include entertainment, the Huckeberry Festival Parade, a 5K Fun Run, dancing under the stars, karaoke, Huckleberry Hounds Dog Agility Demonstration, Huckleberry Homesteader Pentathlon, food by community groups, a Children’s Talent Show, The Huckleberry Auction, children’s activities, horseshoe contest, Huckleberry Dessert Contest, and an interfaith worship service on Sunday morning. The Huckleberry Festival has become a place where the community gathers, families reunite, and those who discover its charms come back year after year.
10. Montana’s Biggest Weekend: Dillon, MT – August 30-31
Aptly described as “Montana’s Biggest Weekend”, the Dillon Jaycee Labor Day Rodeo, Concert, and Parade provides an exciting and colorful end to summer. This events rodeo action lures America’s top riders, ropers, and rodeo stock in two days of exhilarating action. Other highlights of the weekend include: 4-H and arts contests, award winning 4-H animals, carnival style rides, food and prize vendors, along with souvenirs and everything you would expect from a spectacular summer fair. To top off the weekend Sunday night’s concert features popular country artists that spectators flock to. Stay one more night and catch the Labor Day Parade the next morning which has also gained an enviable reputation for its colorful display of entries.