Kootenai Country Montana’s second annual Memorial Day event grows tastefully
By Tracy McNew
Kootenai Country Montana (KCM) was started by Paul Bunn during the summer of 2016. Since then, it has become a nonprofit 501c3 organization and has grown to include a free travel magazine that is published quarterly and an art gallery located in the old Libby Drug building. KCM also organized two major community events that they expect to be hold annually, a chainsaw carving competition and the Wounded Warrior Weekend.
The Wounded Warrior Weekend event started last year. It included an off-road rally and a parade. This year, a barbecue competition will be added along with events at Riverfront t Park throughout the weekend.
KCM has been so successful in their efforts to attract tourism to the area that they were recently named finalists for the state’s best marketing campaign at the Governor’s Tourism Awards. KCM didn’t win, but they were beat by a competitor whose budget far exceeds their own.
Bob Henline, the non-profit’s director said “Everything we do at Kootenai Country Montana is about helping to strengthen our communities. Every visitor we draw here helps our local economy, which helps the entire community. We’re fortunate enough to live in the world’s last best place, and we want to share that with the rest of the world.”
In honor of veterans the Wounded Warrior Weekend event is held over Memorial Day weekend. This year the event will be held in Libby and Troy on Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27.
It is a fundraiser, said Henline, “proceeds will be split four ways to benefit Montana Wounded Warriors and the three VFWs in Lincoln County; Libby’s, Troy’s and Eureka’s.”
The event will include an off-road rally and poker run, a parade, the inaugural Bigfoot Barbecue contest, music, games, food, a beer garden, and a chainsaw carving demonstration by master artist Jacob Lucas.
Riders of all skill levels and vehicle types are welcome to join the off-road rally on Saturday. A donation of $25 per vehicle will be asked of participates, and the ride will be between 40 and 50 miles. Registration for the ride will be at Roosevelt Park in Troy beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 26. Troy’s VFW auxiliary will have breakfast and lunch available at the park as well.
Poker hands will cost $5 each with seven stations. The best five card hand will win 50% of the proceeds. Poker stops throughout the ride will be manned by Montana National Guard members, and a poker winner will b announced when all riders have returned.
After the ride ends in Troy, the Bigfoot barbecue contest will begin at Riverfront Park in Libby. The barbecue competition has been recognized as an official State Barbeque Championship as noted in a letter from Governor Bullock. According to the letter dated May 25, the event is officially “sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association which draws contestants from all over the state of Montana and across the nation.”
“Good barbecue takes time,” Henline said, “so we’ll have lots to do at the Riverfront Park while they cook.” Food sampling is anticipated to start at around 1 p.m. and a DJ will be there playing music. There will also be games and a beer garden selling Cabinet Mountain Brewery’s beers that were donated for the event. Chainsaw carving demonstrations by Jacob Lucas are also planned.
Lucas is a professional chainsaw carver from Bonney Lake, Wash. He participated in last year’s chainsaw competition and placed in the top five.
Barbecue samples will be available for purchase only with Bigfoot Bucks, said Henline. Bigfoot Bucks are a type of coin that will also serve as a souvenir. Bigfoot Bucks will be available for purchase by event-goers for $1 each and they will have a value of $1, but they are only redeemable for food at this event, said Henline. Each barbecue team will set their own menu and prices.
There is still time for locals to put together a barbecue team to compete alongside sanctioned professionals from around the region, said Henline. Anyone interested should register with the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association and pay their fee of $195.
If more than 15 teams participate, and according to Henline, they likely will, the winner will be automatically invited to the American Royal and Jack Daniels 2018 Invitational barbecue championship events to be held this year.
On Sunday the parade line up will start at 9 a.m. on the corner of Mineral and Lincoln. Participation is free and preregistration is not necessary. Post Commanders from all three of the county’s VFWs have been invited to lead the parade as Grand Marshals.
Beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday, judging for the barbecue completion will commence. KCM is still looking for volunteer backup judges. If anyone is interested please contact KCM at (406) 890-7140. All judges will be required to take a judging class on Saturday morning.
For more information visit KCM’s Facebook page or stop in their gallery.