Havre Daily News
Hi-Line Concert Association treasurer Pam Hillery said she has heard world-class performers say great things about their time in Havre. A pianist who came to town in November stayed for four days of sightseeing and almost missed her plane home because she was having too much fun in the Bear Paw Mountains, Hillery told a group of about 40 who had gathered for the second annual Tourism and Cultural Summit hosted by the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
The summit included presentations by representatives from about a dozen local attractions. Chamber executive director Debbie Vandeberg said she was “ecstatic” with the summit's turnout. She said the mission and goal of the gathering was to make all who attended Havre ambassadors extolling the town's offerings.
A survey done by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana reported that tourism brings Hill County $12 million a year with 250,000 traveling through the county annually.
Vandeberg said the chamber's Web site, www.havremt.com, averages 400 hits a day. She said she had answered 16 e-mails on Wednesday morning from people interested in coming to Havre.
Vandeberg said she encourages business owners to take tours with their staff so the workers are well informed when they make suggestions to out-of-towners. The majority of visitors to the county are on their way to or from Glacier National Park, and according to the survey, 32 percent of those tourists have an annual household income of more than $100,000.
Hillery said she has heard talent from out of town say, “Wow, Havre has something to offer me.”
She said she hopes to hear more performers and those who travel to Havre for the shows say, “That's a community worth living in or visiting more than once.”
The association, which has been in business for 67 years, brings in people from Loma to Turner - people who stay at hotels, eat in local restaurants and visit the region's attractions, she said. The association caters to Havre-area residents as well, Hillery added.
The group needs to raise $14,000 by June 1 to pay for next year's schedule, which includes Russian pianist Alexandre Moutouzkine, The Gateway Trio - a mix of vocals, bass, guitar and banjo, the harp and vocal duo Bronn and Katherine Journey, and the ShaeLaurel family band.
They have sold 266 seats so far, raising a total of $9,300. The association is in danger of going out of business if the money needed is not raised.
Four-concert season ticket costs are $15 for students, $40 for adults and families pay $100. The tickets will rise - a $5 increase for students and adults, and a $15 increase for families - after May 31, if enough have been sold to ensure a new season.
Along with the Hi-Line Concert Association, the meeting featured presentations from community art and historical entities: the H. Earl Clack Museum, Montana Actors' Theatre, Havre Beneath the Streets, the Havre Art Association, Fort Assiniboine, the Wahkpa Chu'gn buffalo jump, Artitudes Gallery, the Rudyard Depot Museum, Northern Showcase and the Bear Paw Battlefield.
Fort Assiniboine Preservation Association president Gary Wilson said the open house held at the fort on Sunday was a success and was attended mostly by first-time visitors to the site. Built in 1879, the fort is home to 16 buildings and features architecture from 1879 to 1904. Tours run $5 for adults and $2.50 for children.
Bear Paw Battlefield, located 16 miles south of Chinook, boasts an interpretive trail, which is self-guided with the aid of informative brochures. Ranger-guided tours can be arranged by calling the park office at 357-3130. Park ranger Kelsie Whitney said she encourages visitors to start at the Blaine County Museum, which includes early pioneer and Indian artifacts, to get the background and history of the battlefield before proceeding to the field.
Both attractions are free and the battlefield is open year-round during daylight hours.
The H. Earl Clack Museum is in its second year at the Holiday Village Shopping Center. Starting Memorial Day weekend, the museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Admission is free. The site is county-owned and paid for with county dollars, gift shop revenues and donations.
Museum manager Cheryl Gilbert said she has received interest in the museum from people in Alaska, Arizona and Illinois this year. Gilnert said that when the museum joined the Montana Dinosaur Trail, interest rose.
She said the museum is revamping its Web site, www.clackmuseum.org, to make it more user-friendly.
Lila Redding of the Rudyard Depot Museum said she hopes the museum will help revive the Rudyard community. The museum opened 12 years ago and joined the Montana Dinosaur Trail last year. Every display is “hands on” and many are interactive, Redding said.
Displays include an old schoolhouse, a homestead shack, a working blacksmith shop and a collection of restored vintage cars and farm machinery. Redding said the restoration efforts are so impressive that each vehicle “looks like it just came off the assembly line.”
The newest attraction at the museum is dinosaur bones collected in north-central Montana.
“The bones from the area are returning to their original home on the Hi-Line,” Redding said.
The museum will host an open house on June 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with guest speaker paleontologist Jack Horner. Other paleontologists will be present at the open house including “a couple of Jack's bosses who actually know more than he does,” she said.
The Depot Museum hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Northern Showcase presenters Kathey Hodges and Denise Brewer said all Northern Showcase series members for the 2006-07 season may attend performances in other towns for $5 per concert as part of a reciprocity agreement. The deal includes the Great Falls Community Convert Association, Chouteau County Performing Arts in Fort Benton, Live at the Civic in Helena, and White Sulfur Springs' Meagher County Arts Council.
Performances booked for the 2006-07 series in Havre include singer/songwriter Jack Gladstone on Oct. 5; folk, swing and ragtime band the Polyjesters at the Havre High School auditorium on Jan. 17; and pianist and composer Robin Spielberg at the HHS auditorium on March 20. Series tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for kids and $55 per family.
Series membership also includes admission to one Montana Actors' Theatre production.
Montana Actors' Theatre president Jay Pyette said that at last year's summit he said MAT's goal was to gain performance space. Now it looks like it'll be a reality with the planned cultural and visitor center at the Great Northern Fairgrounds.
The theater group, which is in its 16th year, is now based out of the Montana State University-Northern Theatre. Pyette said the group plans on operating out of both venues. The actors average about five main-stage productions a year. They've also begun going into people's homes and preparing dinner, followed by a play.
Pyette said Havre is mid-way between the Fort Peck and Bigfork theaters and wants to make the town a destination.
“I know people go there from here - the goal is to get people from there to come here,” Pyette said.
Christy Owens of Havre Beneath the Streets, an hour-long historical tour showcasing what Havre was like from 1880 to 1930 in 18 different displays, said the attraction's staff is eager to work with businesses and large groups of tourists. If there is a group of 10 or more people, staff will do an after-hours tour, Owens said.
“If it's five o'clock and you have 15 people checking in who want to do the tour, give me a call,” she said to those who attended the summit.
Summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. seven days a week. Tickets are available at the Frank DeRosa Railroad Museum at a cost of $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, children 6 from 12 are $7 and children under 6 are free. If a group includes 15 or more people, the entrance fee is $7 each.
Owens said the reconstruction of U.S. Highway 2 through Havre might cause some changes in the displays but the attraction will remain open throughout the road work.
“We will not be lost in the construction,” she said.