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In three weeks, Cut Bank will once again host its biggest event of the year, the Lewis and Clark Festival. From July 25-28, the park will fill with people, parades will march down Main Street, tournaments of golf, cornhole, horseshoe, softball, rubber ducks and goldfish will take place and food and crowd-pleasing entertainment will abound. 

You probably know most of what happens each year, but now is the time when we share what is new at this year’s 41st Annual Lewis and Clark Festival. It is also the time to get signed up for events, buy your Lewis and Clark button for $5 and start planning to enjoy the best summer festival along the Hi-Line.

First on the “what’s new” list is the National Guard obstacle course that will be set up on Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27. The football field will be the place for the obstacle course, which you can run anytime from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on both days. A Lewis and Clark button is all you need to run the course as many times as you want.

The “new” event for Saturday is the Goldfish Races. “The Den has usually been the place where these absolutely hysterical races take place each December,” said Nicole Altenburg, one of the Lewis and Clark Committee members. “Since they are so popular, we decided to incorporate them into our Saturday fun at the park.”

The Goldfish Races as you would expect, involve one goldfish, that you get to pick, and a team of two humans. The goldfish is placed in a long piece of PVC pipe that has been halved and opened up on top. One human member of the team takes a straw and tries to “encourage” the goldfish to swim to the finish line. 

Nicole said that in theory blowing through the straw at the fish is supposed to push the fish towards the finish line. “In reality, the fish goes wherever it wants,” she added laughing. “The first fish to cross the finish line wins.”

The cost to participate in the Goldfish Races is $10 per team and each team member, other than the goldfish, will need a Lewis and Clark button. 

“We will be holding the races down by the Burger Barn. They will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday,” said Nicole. “These races are designed for everyone from the little kids to adults. They should be a lot of fun.”

Nicole said it is important to sign-up early, as they need a headcount of how many goldfish they will need to purchase for the race. Contact Nicole to sign up for the races or for any questions you have regarding them. She can be reached at (406) 229-0179.

Also new on Saturday is the Cornhole Tournament, which will start at 1 p.m. Practice for this fun event, that is also designed for kids and adults, will be on Friday at 1 p.m. Everyone who plays in the tournament or practices, will need to have a Lewis and Clark button.

One of the most popular events on Saturday is the parade and this year will be no exception. There is, however, a time change for the parade this year. “Rather than start at 11 a.m., this year’s parade will begin at 10 a.m. Lineup will be at 8:30 a.m. at BJ’s Casino,” said Nicole. 

There are new bands this year entertaining the crowds at the Main Street City Park and for the street dance on Friday night at the stoplight. The band Wheelhouse will be in the park from 1-4:30 p.m. on Friday and Living Room Band will be in the park for the evening shift from 6-10 p.m. 

Music by Sons of 406 will play for the street dance, which starts at 9 p.m., also on Friday. They will also play in the park on Saturday starting at 6 p.m. The afternoon band in the park on Saturday is Common Ground. 

“We have some great bands this year,” said Nicole. “There’s a little something for everyone with these bands.”

While most of the time there is something or someone scheduled to be on stage at the city park, Nicole said there are a few time slots they would like to fill with local talent.

“We really want some local people to come and perform in the park during some of the times we have open. They would be five to 15-minute time slots and the talent can be anything from juggling to singing to acting or whatever else someone would like to do,” Nicole said. “If you are interested, we would love to have you. Give Sissy (Nygaard) a call at (406) 949-2160 or Ryan (Eney) a call at (406) 229-2881.”

And lastly for the new events at this year’s festival, Nicole said Kathy Lindberg, who is a 1985 Cut Bank High School alumni and who will be the new high school and middle school band teacher starting this fall, is trying to put together an alumni band. 

“Kathy will be playing the National Anthem on her trombone for the flag ceremony and on top of that, she wants to gather as many of the Cut Bank alumni as she can and put together a band that will perform at this year’s festival. It would be absolutely wonderful to have lots of our great alumni come together for this really special event,” Nicole said. 

If you want to be part of the band, contact Nicole at 406-229-0179. 

While that covers the new parts of this year’s Lewis and Clark Festival, the one thing that is the same is that everyone needs to have a Lewis and Clark button.

“Those buttons are really important,” Nicole said. “Not only do they allow everyone to participate in all the fun for the long weekend, but the $5 you spend to get one, ensures that future Lewis and Clark Festivals will take place.”

Think of that button as a fundraiser for the festival. That minimal contribution of $5 to buy your button goes back into the festival and guarantees another wonderful festival next year and the next. 

“We want to sell all 1,500 buttons this year, so please do your part and buy your button for the festival and then enjoy the entire weekend of fun and entertainment. It will be the best $5 you spend all weekend,” Nicole reminded. Buttons will be available for purchase at local businesses very soon.

The Committee has put a lot of effort into this year’s festival and their hope is, by having so much of the entertainment and fun being offered in the City Park, that people will stay in the park and enjoy the day. 

“We don’t want people to pick up their lawn chairs and leave the park. We want them to pick up their lawn chairs and move around the park from one fun activity to the other. Buy a button, come and stay and have a great time.”

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