BEST mAGAZINE ‘13-’16 MONTaNa NEWSPaPER aSSOCIaTION
billings’ most read magazine
WARM s g n i d ti FULL THROTTLE REVVIN’ UP TO RIDE
TWO TRaCKS TO PaRaDISE
WOODWORKS OF aRT
mOST INSPIRING PEOPLE OF 2016
The best hospital in Montana
Billings Clinic has been recognized as the Best Regional Hospital in Montana by U.S. News & World Report for meeting standards for high performance in eight specialties â€“ Diabetes & Endocrinology, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Colon Cancer Surgery, Heart ByPass Surgery, Heart Failure, Hip Replacement, Knee Replacement, and Pulmonology. Our long-standing dedication to provide the best patient experience is rooted in our commitment to quality, patient safety, service and value.
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DEC 2016/JAN 2017
MOST INSPIRING PEOPLE OF 2016
MOSTNG I NSPIRI PEOPLE
WOODWORKS OF ART BY DARRELL EHRLICK
BY JACI WEBB
TWO TRACKS TO PARADISE
BY TARA CADY & DARRELL EHRLICK
BILL HAGEN BILLINGS’ FIRST SANTA CLAUS BY MIKE FERGUSON
BEST MAGAZINE ‘13-’16 MONTANA NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION
BILLINGS’ MOST READ MAGAZINE
WARM tidings HOLIDAY 2013 DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 ISSUE
FULL THROTTLE REVVIN’ UP TO RIDE
TWO TRACKS TO PARADISE
WOODWORKS OF ART
MOST INSPIRING PEOPLE OF 2016
ON THE COVER OLD FAITHFUL SNOW LODGE COURTESY OF SUZANN L
Dr. Eric Arzubi
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 5
DEC 2016/JAN 2017
RIVER TO RIMS
IN EVERY ISSUE
FROM THE STAFF
ANNUAL HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
FUN, FASCINATING FINDS
IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING
BOOKS, MOVIES, MUSIC & WEB REVIEWS
SEEN AT THE SCENE
WHY MAGIC CITY?
25 32 39
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
DIRTY OSCAR’S ANNEX
CHRISTMAS IN BILLINGS
THE RISE OF WILLARD FRASER
GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS (LIGHTS) PAST
BY LORNA THACKERAY
6 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
NATION’S BEST NEW YEAR’S EVE DESTINATIONS
In the early 1880s, immigrants and adventurers came in droves to seek their livelihood on the verdant land along the Yellowstone River. The hastily constructed tents and log cabins made it appear as if Billings materialized overnight – thus earning the name “The Magic City.” Today, as the largest city in Montana, Billings proudly retains its ‘Magic City’ moniker. As for Magic City magazine, we promise to continue our mission to uncover all that is unique and wonderful and changing in this great community … and we guarantee a few surprises along the way.
DEC 2016/JAN 2017 I VOLUME 14 I ISSUE 5 MICHAEL GULLEDGE PUBLISHER 657-1225 EDITORIAL
Why 0 Minutes 20 Matters to You
TARA CADY SENIOR EDITOR 657-1390 TIFFINI GALLANT ASSISTANT WRITER/EDITOR 657-1474 EVELYN NOENNIG COMMUNITY LIAISON / ASSISTANT EDITOR 657-1226 PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY
LARRY MAYER, CASEY PAGE, HANNAH POTES, BOB ZELLAR AND BRONTË WITTPENN DESIGN
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MOre tHan a HOt tuB More than home-improvement or entertainment, a hot tub is an investment in your health and well-being. Our owners say that they have more energy, sleep better, and can do more with their day. Plus, time spent together in the warm water can lead to better relationships outside the hot tub.
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD
MARCY BAUMGARTNER, BROOKE BUCHANAN, BILL COLE, CHRIS DORR, JAMEY EISENBARTH, JEFF EWELT, KIM KAISER, NICHOLE MEHLING MILES, PAIGE SPALDING, HELEN TOLLIVER, LIZ WILMOUTH, JEREMIAH YOUNG CONTACT US: Mail: 401 N. Broadway Billings, MT 59101 firstname.lastname@example.org FIND US ONLINE AT www.montanamagazines.com
FIND US AT VARIOUS RACK LOCATIONS THROUGHOUT BILLINGS: Billings area Albertsons I Billings Airport I Billings Clinic Billings Gazette Communications I Billings Hardware I Curves for Women Evergreen IGA I Gainan’s I Good Earth Market I Granite Fitness Kmart I Lucky’s Market I McDonald’s I Pita Pit I Reese and Ray’s IGA (Laurel) Shipton’s I Stella’s Kitchen & Bakery I St. Vincent Healthcare I Billings Family YMCA Valley Federal Credit Union (Downtown location) I Western Ranch Supply Western Security Banks (Downtown location) I Yellowstone County Museum Plus many other locations Magic City Magazine is published five times a year by Billings Gazette Communications Copyright© 2016 Magic City Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without express written consent is prohibited.
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MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 7
FROM THE STAFF
FESTIVE WISHES FROM OUR GROWING FAMILY BY THE STAFF OF MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE We can all use a bit of good, inspiring news. Elections are over and it’s been a whopper of an election season, no matter who you supported. It’s winter in Montana so that means snow and cold. And yet, it’s also the holidays and this is a time to share stories that inspire us and feed our souls for the year to come. It’s a time of family, traditions and a spirit of bringing joy and being filled with just a bit of wonder. That’s precisely why during this holiday issue of Magic Magazine, we present a lineup of 2016’s Most Inspiring People. Anytime you have a list of “most” anything, you’re bound to leave people out. Or, you run the risk of saying no one could possibly out-inspire these folks. That’s not what this is about, either. Instead, the staff of Magic have worked hard to find the people who aren’t always in the headlines of the newspaper or those who aren’t always at every event. Instead, we’ve searched to find some people you may have heard of, but have never realized how much they’ve given because, frankly, they’re too busy giving and aren’t concerned with any publicity. One interesting pattern for many of the most inspiring people is that they may not necessarily be “from here,” sometimes an exclusionary label applied by native Montanans. Yet, Billings — this Magic City — is their home. This is where their hearts and souls are. And it shows. Each one of these people has come to this community, many times by choice, and they’ve discovered a way to improve it, and make it different. From the Downtown Billings Alliance’s Lisa Harmon who has been front and center in transforming and keeping the downtown’s core as the soul of Billings, to Cole Barnes, who has served as an inspiration for an entire high school. We hope you let these inspiring people nourish your holiday season.
As we flipped through the proofs of this
8 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
magazine, we have a coincidence of two stories about people who work in very different ways with wood. It’s not necessarily intentional that this edition of Magic would have a wood theme, but in Montana — a land of natural resources and lots of trees — it would stand to reason that people would create art from what surrounds them. Melissa Burns, known to the rest of the world as “Girlwood,” has virtually created an artform that no one else has. She’s taken a few rudimentary wood burning tools and some torches and created portraits and artwork that is subtle, complex and original. Meanwhile, the detail in Bob Orr’s woodwork is exactly the kind of precision you’d expect from a former chemical engineer. And from his home on Billings’ West End, he’s created these intricate and detailed replicas that some might call toys, but others would call works of art.
It’s also a good time to mention some new faces who will be joining as regular staff members of our magazine. Tara Cady has been named the senior editor of Magic. She continues her excellent work in an expanded role. Marlisa Keyes comes to our publication with more than 20 years of publishing and writing experience in Idaho. She and her husband live in Laurel, Mont., and we’re thrilled to bring on board someone with her depth of experience who knows the importance of embracing a community by telling its stories. Tiffini Gallant will be joining our staff fulltime and she will be dedicated to helping plan and produce content for Magic. It will be the bulk of her job and more importantly, she describes working for the magazine as a passion. We love putting together Magic City Magazine and we love that you take the time to spend reading it. From our expanding Magic family to yours: We wish you the very happiest of holidays and the joy of the season.
executive assistant to the publisher and Billings native, continues to enjoy all that her hometown has to offer. She considers the opportunity to always run into someone she knows at the grocery store, downtown on the street or at one of the many wonderful events held throughout town, one of the small blessings of living in the Magic City.
grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago but has since fallen in love with the mountainous West. After finishing a degree in psychology in Colorado, her love of travel and meeting unique people inspired her to pursue a more creative path in a city that celebrates art and music. With Billings as her muse, she hopes to unlock hidden talents.
hails from east of the Mississippi, but has made Montana her home for nearly a decade. A bit of an old soul, she’s nostalgic for the 1920s, listens to The Beatles, and loves the smell of antique books. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge (and intolerance for boredom), you’ll regularly find her juggling many hats. Call her crazy – she’s heard it before.
JACI WEBB fell in love with words and stories starting in
second grade when her teacher banned her from recess one week, leaving her surrounded by books. Jaci has spent 30 years interviewing rock musicians, visual artists and actors for The Billings Gazette to give voice to their magic.
DARRELL EHRLICK loves reading, writing, baseball, bourbon, cooking, Montana history, more books, bacon, old albums, cigars, cats (especially crossed-eye Siamese and black cats), his patient wife and his two children who are his real day job. He tends to have an opinion on everything, often being wrong but rarely in doubt. He works as the editor of The Billings Gazette and was born and raised in Billings. He’s written other things, few probably worth mentioning here.
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spends her free time exploring the mountains of Montana, either biking trails with her dog Porter, or skiing. Holding a passion for travel, her most recent trip took her backpacking through Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland. She’s looking forward to immersing herself in the journalism world.
2016 READERS’ CHOICE
JEFF WELSCH returned to journalism two years ago after
1400 400 Broadwater Ave • 406-655-9400
a six-year hiatus only to discover this Internet thing had turned everything upside-down. In his role as Lee Montana executive sports director, his work revolves around a new statewide website: 406mtsports.com. He is co-author of five books, including Backroads & Byways of Montana, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and Jackson Hole, and Oregon Wine Country: A Great Destination.
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Since 2013, has covered City Hall for the Billings Gazette. His initial piece for Magic Magazine has afforded him a welcome respite from long meetings and short deadlines. He’s married to the lovely and talented Susan Barnes, pastor of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. The couple have two children: Lucas, 24, and Eleanor, 20.
No Chemicals or Sprays
LORNA THACKERAY spent 36 years as a reporter at The Billings Gazette before retiring in 2013. She graduated from the University of Montana with majors in history and journalism so long ago that it is history. She loves reading, writing and avoiding arithmetic.
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 9
PERSON OF INTEREST
GIFT GUIDE BY TIFFINI GALLANT
FUN, FASCINATING FINDS WE THINK ARE GREAT BRAINY BARBIE
Teach your child about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with this kit developed by Tames & Kosmos and Mattel. Join Barbie and her cousin Nikki as they complete seven building projects and more than 10 experiments in a full-color, fun storybook manual.
Bringing us out of the Stone Age and into the Techno Age is this interactive children’s toy. Wi-Fi-enabled and Cloudbased, this educational-rex comes with storytelling, questions and answers, games and conversation. Your kid will roar with excitement when they unwrap the Dino.
Available at Toys ‘R’ Us $100
Available at Toys ‘R’ US, Walmart, Target or Amazon $30
WILD READ DARLING DOLLY
Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the biggest impressions. Introduce your little one to these snuggly stuffed blabla dolls. They are sure to be a timeless treasure for your child.
Available at Bumps ‘n Bundles $60
10 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
Encounter local wildlife with “Montana Babies!,” an adorable collection of colorful photographs and engaging rhymes. These baby critters are so cute they’ll have your toddler turning the pages of this book over and over again.
Available at Bumps ‘n Bundles
Available at local bookstores or farcountrypress.com
Embark on a cross-country adventure while you and your child learn about the United States of America with these Uncle Goose educational blocks. Each one highlights fun facts about every state, helping kids learn while having fun!
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HIM ‘ROUND THE RIVERBEND
Every adventurer needs a new item for springtime exploration. The Innova Swing 2 Kayak is durable enough for river terrain, and its sleek design allows it to be easily packed into a suitcase for his next getaway. Don’t want to be left at home? The Swing 2 design seats two passengers.
Available at innovakayak.com $948
TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE
Got the time? This classic, handcrafted time piece is all about the details: sapphire crystal, a Super-LumiNova printed dial and an etched lightning bolt on the buckle. Keep him on-time and fashion-forward with The Runwell.
Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers $350
Shrink his wallet without having to compromise comfort or style. With Italian leather and high-quality elastic, the Tight Wallet is sure to be on his wish list.
Available at Gainan’s $50
KEEP IT CLIPPED
A truly unique item for a special man in your life. The Zurich “Aruba” money clip features 100,000-year-old fossil coral and blue topaz set in tempered stainless steel. Durable and decorative, this gift will keep on giving as it passes down from generation to generation.
Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers $350
12 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
GIRL’S BEST FRIEND
Add sparkle to her wardrobe with a pair of timeless diamond stud earrings. She’ll never want to take them off, and you’ll receive a kiss under the mistletoe for showing her you care.
Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers $99
Give her an item that never goes out of style with this Vera Bradley turnlock satchel or slim saddle bag. The “Painted Feathers” design tells a unique story inspired by the real Vera Bradley’s recent move to Montana.
Available at Gainan’s $58-82
Add a pop of color to her wardrobe this winter with the maize accordion wallet by Vera Bradley. For the woman-on-the-go this wallet will keep necessities together and keep her looking fabulous well into the new year.
Available at Gainan’s $58
Show her she’s on your nice list by giving her the latest from the John Hardy collection. An elegant choice for a woman of any age, the black spinel and sapphires set in a sterling silver bracelet will put a sparkle in her eye (and on her wrist!) Make it a set with matching studs.
Highlighting the lives of 23 madams in our history, Nann Parrett’s new book “Montana Madams” captures the complex stories of the prostitution profession. Get an intimate glimpse into the loves and losses of these diverse and sometimes deceitful women.
Available at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers $495-695
Available at local bookstores or farcountrypress.com $17
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 13
HOME CRAFTY COLLECTION MERRY MIXOLOGIST
Holiday get-togethers won’t be complete without this copper gift set. Whether you try out classic cocktails, like a Moscow Mule, or make up something new – your guests will be impressed either way.
A Big Sky beer drinker’s delight! Document your drinks as you ﬁll this beer cap map of Montana with bottle caps from local craft beers. Whether you have one favorite or many, this display allows you to be creative with your caps.
Available at Gainan’s $35
Available at Joy of Living $9-89
Nothing smells like Christmas in Montana like the scent of pine. Fill your home with “Frasier Fir,” a forest fragrance available in both an oil diffuser and decorative candle.
Available at Gainan’s $50-60
Your family recipe collection has never been so organized. Keep mom’s holiday ham, grandma’s cookies and your secret ingredients together in this adorable and easyto-use recipe binder. You’ll be the savviest chef in town!
Available at Joy of Living $22
14 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
Avoid gift envy this and treat your pup to Christmas Cake Bites, made of dog-licious ingredients like applesauce, peanut butter and a yogurt coating.
Available at Lovable Pets Bakery & Boutique
BY TIFFINI GALLANT
IN THE SPIRIT OF
GIVING The holiday season is a time in which we reflect on our blessings. Families get together, gifts are distributed and we begin to set goals for the new year. But as you think about the things you have and want, consider that many are without the things they need.
Whether you donate an hour of your time, money or spread the word about a great cause, work toward making the Billings community a better place. Here, we provide you with many – but certainly not all – of the local non-profit and charitable organizations that need your help this holiday season.
GROWING COMMUNITY RESOURCES Billings Public Library – Make a difference in a child’s life with a one-time or monthly contribution, helping put books in children’s hands and supporting reading programs like the Billings Public Library Foundation’s First Chapter Society. billings.lib.mt.us, 510 N. Broadway, 657-8258 St. Vincent de Paul — This holiday season help St. Vincent de Paul support people who are struggling daily to survive. A little goes a long way and donations and volunteer hours directly contribute to the needy. svdpmt.org, 2610 Montana Ave., 252-1855 YMCA – Shape the future of the Billings community by volunteering with the Billings Family YMCA. There is a place for everyone and every gift, so collaborate with them, donate at any level to the Family Locker Room Campaign or give toward other charitable planning objectives. billingsymca.org, 402 N. 32nd St., 248-1685
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 15
Billings Food Bank – Don’t let anyone go hungry during the holidays. Volunteers serve a tremendous need and donations do not have to be edible commodities. Personal care items, food, time, resources and financial support are necessary to support the organization and community. billingsfoodbank.com, 2112 4th Ave. N., 259-2856 Salvation Army – Anything helps prevent hunger during the holidays. Help clothe children through the Dress a Child program, or sort and distribute Angel Tree gifts. Drivers and riders are also needed. billings.salvationarmy.org, 2100 6th Ave. N., 245-4659
PROVIDING FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES Big Brothers Big Sisters – Matching children with mentors is a special mission. Your gift supports long-term mentor relationships, sponsors background checks and provides gas cards. Interested in mentoring a little? Join Big Brothers Big Sisters today. bbbsyc.org, 2123 Second Ave. N., 245-2229 Boys & Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County Volunteers are an integral part of the success of this organization. Consider participating in a club project, like tutoring. There are also many great investment opportunities and 100 percent of funds generated in Yellowstone County are used to enhance the club experience at a local level. begreatyellowstone.org, 505 Orchard Ln., 245-2582 Friendship House – There are many ways to volunteer with Friendship House and each of them supports their mission of fostering renewal, stability and transformation in the lives of Billings families. Assist at-risk families and become a friend by donating. friendshipmt.org, 3123 8th Ave. S., 259-5569 Head Start, Inc. – Assisting with events, working with children, mentoring parents and helping to maintain facilities are just some of the ways to get involved. Donations are welcome and can be in the form of cash, books, paper and other classroom supplies. Every contributor is a hero to the children and families in the Billings community. billingsheadstart.org, 615 N. 19th St., 245-7233 Toys for Tots – The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve collects new, unwrapped toys to distribute to needy children in the community. Volunteers help with the transportation and storage of toys. billings-mt.toysfortots.org, 670-9146 Family Service, Inc. – The generosity of donors and volunteers helps to prevent homelessness and alleviate poverty in Yellowstone County. Donations of time, money or emergency food items and clothing make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. famserv.com, 1824 1st Ave. N., 259-2269
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Center for Children and Families – For only one dollar a day, become a champion for families. Be a friend and mentor for children by volunteering your time and talents. Give a gift on their wish list – from mattresses and bedding to car services, first aid supplies and toiletries. forfamilies.org, 3021 3rd Ave. N., 294-5090
ASSISTING SENIOR CITIZENS Big Sky Senior Services – Donations help keep services for seniors available. Some of these services include homemaking, nursing, grocery shopping, a representative payee program, transportation to medical appointments and visiting volunteers. Adopt a senior by purchasing a gift or delivering purchased gifts during the holidays. bigskyseniorservices.org, 937 Grand Ave., 259-3111
ZooMontana – If you love the zoo and would like to make a difference, there are many opportunities to volunteer. Your contribution supports keeping the animals happy and healthy while ensuring the doors are open for visitors. zoomontana.org, 2100 S. Shiloh Rd., 652-8100
Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter – Monetary donations, items and helping hands are always welcome. Wet cat and dog food, dry kitten food and milk replacer and washable toys and blankets (with no stuffing or down) are on their wish list. Volunteers receive training and an animal’s unconditional love before it is welcomed into a new home. yvas.org, 1735 Monad Rd., 294-7387 Adult Resource Alliance – Purchase a $40 meal card and provide 10 meals to a senior in need. Deliver a meal as a Meals on Wheels delivery driver or become a personal shopper, ensuring that no homebound senior goes hungry. allianceyc.org, 1505 Ave. D, 259-9666
BARK – A private animal re-homing center, Billings Animal Rescue Kare (BARK) depends on volunteer support and donations to operate. Dog and cat food, pet supplies and sponsorship of vaccination or spay and neuter procedures help BARK continue its mission. Find them on Facebook, 4017 1st Ave. S., 694-1107
HELPING OUR FURRY FRIENDS Rez Dog Rescue – Give to Rez Dog Rescue so they can continue to provide for animals in need. The Dog Spot at 1749 Grand Avenue accepts donations on their behalf. Blankets, dog beds, dog collars and leashes, dog toys, bones, treats and Kirkland Puppy Chow from Costco are most helpful. Find them on Facebook
FINDING A HOME Tumbleweed – Cash donations are certainly welcome, but there are a variety of other needs at Tumbleweed. Donations of canned food, bottled water, hygiene items and P38 military can openers are some items they can use. Lobby and conference room furniture are also needed. tumbleweedprogram.org, 505 N. 24th St., 259-2558
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 17
SUPPORTING THE ARTS Billings Studio Theatre – Now in its 64th season, BST provides the Billings community and greater Yellowstone region with quality, affordable family theater. BST’s financial lifeblood comes from four main sources: ticket sales, grants, sponsorships and donations. billingsstudiotheatre.com, 1500 Rimrock Rd., 248-1141 Alberta Bair Theater – Join their “Circle of Friends” by making a gift to the ABT’s mission. Performance art lovers can volunteer by assisting with cleanup after most events. Become a member of the Encore Gift Club, which earns you exclusive invitations, preferred seating and other behind-the-scenes perks. albertabairtheater.org, 2801 3rd Ave. N., 256-6052 Habitat for Humanity – Raising money to build affordable homes for families is their mission, and it isn’t possible without volunteers. Spend time assisting with charitable endeavors, serving on a committee, working at the ReStore or, of course, constructing a home. billingshabitat.org, 1617 1st Ave. N., 652-0960 Montana Rescue Mission – MRM is more than just a homeless shelter and relies on community support to provide services. Vehicles, clothing, non-perishable food items for holiday meals, cleaning supplies and much more are needed. They are also requesting care packages as well as volunteers to decorate the dining hall. montanarescuemission.org, 2902 Minnesota Ave., 259-3800
PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELLNESS American Cancer Society – Help manage mailings, acknowledge donations, organize materials, answer phones, greet visitors and connect with other volunteers. Become a Relay for Life leadership volunteer to help plan and organize events in the local community. The more people who join in on their mission, the more lives they can save. cancer.org/volunteer, 1903 Central Ave. 256-7150 LIFTT – LIFTT engages individuals with disabilities in social activities, community events, educational offerings and health promotions. Donations help empower people with disabilities to live independently in their communities, and volunteers are always welcome to help with a class or event.
NOVA Center for the Performing Arts – A donation to NOVA bridges the gap between ticket sales and production costs. Continue a rich tradition of community-based entertainment by investing in the education of and outreach to the next generation of performers. novabillings.org, 2317 Montana Ave., 591-9535
PRESERVING HERITAGE Western Heritage Center – The Western Heritage Center is one of the only museums in Montana that develops historical interpretation from original research. This allows the creation of interactive exhibits, presentations and tours, school curriculum and a regional archive as expansive as Montana itself. Please contribute to the community’s future by making a gift. ywhc.org, 2822 Montana Ave., 256-6809 Moss Mansion – Join an amazing volunteer pool with flexible positions. Members enjoy tickets, discounts and more at a level that fits both budget and lifestyle. As a sponsor or donor, support maintenance initiatives and upgrades that ensure the Mansion is a structurally sound and safe place. mossmansion.com, 914 Division St., 256-5100
liftt.org, 1201 Grand Ave. No. 1, 259-5181
Yellowstone Art Museum – Love gardening? Office work? Teaching? Interacting with the public? Each of these skills and interests are appreciated at RiverStone Health – A gift to RiverStone Health Foundation is a healthy investment. From the Yellowstone Art Museum. With positions available medical care to educating professionals, their work improves the life, health and safety of the year-round, consider volunteering in a fun, creative and rewarding environment. community. Contact them to learn more about how you can help make a difference. artmuseum.org, 401 N. 27th St., 256-6804 riverstonehealth.org, 123 S. 27th St., 651-6555 NAMI-Billings – As needs change and increase in the Billings community, NAMI-Billings must grow membership and core programs. To offer support, education and advocacy for the mentally ill and their loved ones, consider making a donation to the NAMI-Billings mission.
Wise Wonders Children’s Museum – Curious, creative and scientific minds engage in a playful learning environment at this museum. The interactive space accepts donations and needs volunteers for programming, exhibits, STEM events and art. Exhibits include a wind tunnel, market, gear wall, augmented reality sandbox, water exhibit, animal rescue clinic and more.
namibillings.org, 3333 2nd Ave. N. Ste. 150, 256-2001
wisewonders.org, 110 N. 29th St., 702-1280
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UNSURE OF WHERE TO GIVE? Turn to one of these organizations to learn where your time and resources can be of most assistance. They match donors and volunteers with non-profit and civic engagement opportunities throughout the Billings Area. United Way of Yellowstone County – United Way connects the pieces that make up a thriving community. Give what you can, as one gift is multiplied by many to improve lives. Find holiday opportunities to volunteer with location agencies at YouCanVolunteer.org. unitedwayyellowstone.org, 2173 Overland Ave., 252-3839
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Alliance Volunteer Program – Volunteering is an enriching activity for everybody, especially retirees and seniors who have a great deal of knowledge and experience to share. Individuals become more deeply connected to others and their community by volunteering and often experience improvements in both mental and physical health.
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Friday, February 17, 2017 • Friday, March 31, 2017 Find out more at msubillings.edu/future today! DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE | 19
BY DARRELL EHRLICK I PHOTOGRAPHY OF CASEY PAGE
‘IT’S LIKE PLAYING WITH FIRE’ When Melissa Burns – also known as “Girlwood” in the art world – tells people her art medium is woodburning, there are a lot of questions.
IN GENERAL, I DON’T GET ART. I JUST DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. PEOPLE GET IT OR NOT. I JUST HAVE TO GET IT OUT OF MY BRAIN.
Melissa Burns works on a piece in her Girlwood studio in downtown Billings.
“Like you throw your art into the fire?” No. “Are you a pyro?” No. Burns understands the concept of creating art by burning images and designs into pieces of wood like others draw on canvas is unconventional. When she first started putting fire to wood, she searched for a teacher or even a book. She found one at Hobby Lobby, but it was more about ornamentation or decoration. There was another online. It wasn’t much help, either. So Burns set out to teach herself how to use fire and wood to create a piece of art. Where other artists may have thousands of colors and hundreds of brushes available, she has something that looks kind of like a soldering iron with three different tips and a couple of torches. The elements are basic – wood and fire. The tools are minimal, some torches and an iron. You can’t undo what the flames char. She didn’t start out making art. She picked up a “It’s like painting with fire,” Burns said. “It’s not forwoodburning pen by coincidence. giving at all.” It was after her father, Tim Williams, died five years Don’t bother pointing out the irony of her name, Me- ago that she rediscovered the woodburning pen he had given her. It was one of the several things he gave her to lissa Burns. “It’s just a weird coincidence,” Burns said. “I ask peo- encourage her artistic bent – something he could see but she just couldn’t. And still can’t to some degree. ple all the time, ‘Is your name John Mechanic?’” “I mean it’s not that I am totally detached, but if all Girlwood is a name she adopted because it seemed to best fit what she does – a simple match for an artform my art went into a fire, I wouldn’t feel as if my life’s work that is so straightforward. Girlwood just kind of came was gone,” Burns said. She picked up woodburning as something to do as into being and stuck, much like how Burns started pracshe took a few months off, mourning the loss of her faticing woodburning. Artist – that’s a term she’s still not comfortable with. ther, regrouping.
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Woodburning was a good fit for someone who eschews the frills of art, but embraces the idea of holding a torch just far enough away to get a shade so slight you almost have to put your nose up to the wood to see it. Growing up, when her sisters were off doing other things, she was helping her father, who worked as a general contractor. “That was always more appealing than Barbies,” Burns said. “I’m not a tomboy, but I’m not a girly girl.” When she picked up the woodburning tool, she made a few pictures and was amazed when
people offered to buy her work. That really wasn’t the point. It was just something to do, a new challenge. “My dad had always encouraged me growing to become an artist, and I told him, ‘That’s stupid. I need to make money,’” Burns said. She doesn’t buy the thought that somewhere, somehow her father sees everything she’s created. Instead, she credits woodburning for teaching her lessons that he might have; she can feel his guiding hand as she forces herself to stick with the art, even when the wood is so terribly unforgiving.
Top, left: Melissa Burns works on a piece in her Girlwood studio in downtown Billings. Top, right: This artwork, with shadow and texture, was created with just a couple of tools available for woodburning. Bottom, left: Wood burning art by Burns as Girlwood. Bottom, middle: The Girlwood sign hangs above the ArtWalk showcase of Burns’ work. This is another study in shadow and hands. Bottom, right: This picture of a ballerina’s foot and hands is one of Burns’ more recent pieces; it showcases her recent techniques including shadow and details of her hands.
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 21
She didn’t know what to do with the crying woman in Livingston. A woman had stopped by her booth and looked at one of her woodburnings and started to tear up. Burns asked if something was wrong or she needed help. The scene was Burns’ take on a World War II propaganda poster from England which showed bombers and a factory. She’s still not sure what triggered the emotion. She didn’t ask. “I don’t know what to do with crying people,” Burns said. “I am always amazed that my work means more to those who see it. In general, I don’t get art. I just do what I want to do. People get it or not. I just have to get it out of my brain.”
reminiscent of scrimshaw or other carving. Now shadows and shading replace cross-hatching. A recent series of four Native American leaders are textured portraits that bear a wonderful similarity to a sepia-toned vintage photograph. And yet, the wood’s unique grain, just below the surface, give them an original feel with an understated depth. The next lesson for Burns to learn as she plays the role of teacher and student through trial and error is three-dimensional design. At first she was insulted, but now it’s a point of pride. She applied to be part of a summer art festival in a nearby town. She sent examples of the woodburning to the festival’s organizers. The organizers asked for more pictures. Then they started asking more questions: What programs did she use? What printers burned the image onto the wood? “What machines, they asked,” Burns said. “I can barely run my email.” They said they would have to pass on letting her have a booth because event attendees and vendors like handmade items. “They just didn’t believe me that I could do this to wood,” Burns said. “But beyond growing the trees, everything else I do by hand. I sand the wood and prepare it. I have fire and wood. That’s all I need.”
In addition to having around six rudimentary woodburning tools, she also has had to learn about different kinds of wood and how the grain and textures burn.
She’s taken on no apprentices, interns or even help. That’s because she’s still learning a craft for which there is literally no guide or master. There is no one to tell her that some woods are tough – like bloodwood, which doesn’t shade well; its dense fiber and oils make it smear. There’s also pine, birch and cedar – softer woods that take a slight char. “I love cedar because it smells good and shades well,” Burns said. “This is like painting with fire. I had to learn to paint with a torch.” Her latest works move away from the intricate line drawings almost
PROVIDING ENERGY. IMPROVING LIVES. At Phillips 66, supporting our people, our environment and our communities guides everything we do and it always will. As part of our commitment to operational excellence and sustainability, our Billings Refinery has earned an ENERGY STAR certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizing their voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Phillips66.com © 2016 Phillips 66 Company. All rights reserved.
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The certification signifies that the refinery performed in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency using the Solomon-Ell ™ scoring system and met environmental performance levels set by the EPA. CM 16-0779
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 23
BY TIFFINI GALLANT
BILLINGS MEMORIES II:
THE 1940S, 1950S AND 1960S
SOUL Y PIMIENTA There is no shortness of soul in this new CD by Billings transplant John Roberts. Consider yourself dared not to dance as you listen to every arrangement (you won’t be able to stop at one). The album features traditional jazz elements like upbeat tempos, horns, piano and moody vocals. With the infusion of Cuban Son and Congolese Soukous influence, these tunes will have you ringing in 2017 with style. Available at iTunes and johnjroberts.net
Billings natives, visitors past and future and history connoisseurs, ready yourselves for the second edition of “Billings Memories.” Readers will be transported back through time to glimpse into the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s with this pictorial memoir of the Magic City. Once again, The Billings Gazette, Western Heritage Center, Billings Public Library and community members have collaborated on this chronicle of images and vignettes documenting the mid-century growth and prosperity of the City of Billings. This year, Rocky Mountain College has joined in this partnership, ensuring a diverse collection of memories. The exceptional quality of this hardcover book guarantees its place on coffee tables everywhere. Arriving just in time for the holidays, enjoy flipping through pages of photographic treasures and sharing your experiences with the whole family. Books will be available for sale at The Billings Gazette or online at Billings.PictorialBook.com for $44.95
24 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
Chock-full of haunting humor, paranormal puns and an A-list cast, the new Ghostbusters film is a laugh-out-loud comedy for the next generation. A nod to its 1980s predecessor, this flick boasts a similar plot. Join ghost enthusiasts as they embark on an adventure to stop an otherworldly threat against the city of Manhattan. You’ll enjoy the chilling (and hilarious) thrills, and the PG-13 rating means your teens will too. Available at most local retailers
ATLETO Jump-start your New Year’s resolutions with ATLETO, an innovative health app. The app makes it easy to connect with other athletes or to meet new friends that want to work off those holiday calories. If finding a partner to hit the gym with or locating a pickup game is up your alley, try ATLETO. Available on the Mac App Store and Google Play
BY DARRELL EHRLICK | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BOB ZELLAR
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 25
The idea for this upside-down Christmas tree began when Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley wanted to put up another Christmas tree, but didn’t want it damaged by the wagging tails of three large dogs. So, she had the idea to hang a tree upside down, out of harm’s way.
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IT’S GOOD TO BE A GIRL
All the Christmas and holiday decorations on the exterior of Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley’s house are fresh. She loves making wreaths and garland from fresh blue spruce — a talent she developed after once taking apart a Christmas wreath from a big-box retailer.
he trouble with Sharon Weather wax-Ripley and her husband, Ben Ripley, is there’s no one to pull the reins in on their holiday decorating. Not even Santa Claus himself with years of practice on a herd of hopped-up reindeer would be able to throttle back the preparations of this Billings home. And why would he? Holidays in the Ripley house are a time to connect with family and celebrate traditions, including a main Christmas tree with delicate glass ornaments and a time for “community pruning.” That’s what Weatherwax-Ripley calls it. Every fall, around Halloween, she puts pruning shears in her car and starts looking for blue spruce trees — their grayish-blue branches make the perfect holiday trim for wreaths. She spots a blue spruce in need of a trim and asks the owner if she could prune it for them. “I always ask, and I try to ask nicely,” Weath-
erwax-Ripley said. Admittedly, there are some strange looks at first. “Normally, they think I’m nuts,” Weatherwax-Ripley said. “But you have ask nicely and explain.” She just loves using the freshly grown spruce and other plants around her yard during Christmas time. Her decorations really encompass two parts of the house — indoors and outdoors. Everything outdoors is fresh, including wreaths she hand-makes from her trimming adventures. Each part of her house looks like it came from a holiday magazine. There are perfectly-shaped wreaths, a Christmas village and five Christmas trees total. As part of her tradition, the decorating doesn’t begin until after Halloween. That’s not to say she isn’t constantly thinking about new decorations or prowling things like YouTube for ideas. For nearly three weeks, she’s busy transforming the home into a Winter Wonderland of holiday-themed decorations.
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MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 27
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406.254.1550 | 1550 Poly Drive, Billings | 444 N 9th St. Suite 5, Columbus | 111 S Broadway Suite C, Red Lodge © 2016 BHH Afﬁliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchise of BHH Afﬁliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America Inc.® Equal Housing Opportunity.
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Invisible Hearing Aids Digital Hearing Aids, Open Ear Hearing Aids in all price ranges.
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Some traditions just happened, like when she once disassembled a Christmas wreath from a store to see if she could make it smaller. Once she had reverse-engineered it, she thought, “Oh, is that all there is to that? Well I could do that.” And she did. Other items have a sentimental spot in her home, like the tree with glass decorations, some of which have been part of her or her husband’s family for decades. Above: A felt snowman at the home of Other ornaments she’s ac- Ben and Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley. The cumulated from friends and decoration process for Weatherwax-Ripley begins shortly after Halloween. Top: Even family for years. the lights in the home are decorated She started collecting during the holidays. The New England Christmas Village when she learned her husband had always been enamored by the lighted decorative villages at Gainan’s. “I don’t know of many who collect the New England Village, but I did it because the first piece I bought was Ben’s Barber Shop because my hus-
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MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 29
band is Ben,” Weatherwax-Ripley said. “Thankfully, we don’t have a lot of room to expand so I cannot buy more.” Decorating and finding new ways to flex her creativity comes natural for a person who found her own plans for an outdoor pizza oven as well as discovered how to light the large oak tree in the front yard using lights and PVC tubing from a sprinkler system. “We don’t have kids so I think we have more time and energy to devote to decoration,” Weatherwax-Ripley said. In addition to the large tree with glass decorations, there’s another that features shells Ripley has collected from around the world. Another tree that sits on the bar area of the kitchen features fruit and vegetable ornaments. Maybe the most unique tree, though, is upside down. That’s right. Bolted to a floor joist, it hangs from the ceiling. “We wanted a tree where we spend a lot of time but we had three dogs and there was not a spot safe from wagging tails,” Weatherwax-Ripley said. By suspending the tree, it gave fewer targets for wagging tails. “I had to buy three trees to find this out, but the best kind is the inexpensive kind,” Weatherwax-Ripley said. The perfect upside-down candidate was an artificial tree with hinged branches. By bending them slightly, she can make it look as if the tree defies gravity. The Christmas-decorated house that A homemade evergreen frame at Ben and Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley’s home. takes two to three weeks to create is usually disassembled and put away in a matter of several days. “The house feels empty and a little sad,” Weatherwax-Ripley said. “But gardening comes a month later.” Weatherwax-Ripley decorates for the enjoyment of the season — for her family and friends who love to visit. Still, that hasn’t stopped some folks from noticing and appreciating the effort. “Once, we came home and there was a note on our driveway, written in ~Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley chalk,” Weatherwax-Ripley said. “It said thank you for decorating.”
“ONCE, WE CAME HOME AND THERE WAS A NOTE ON OUR DRIVEWAY, WRITTEN IN CHALK. IT SAID THANK YOU FOR DECORATING.”
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Sharon Weatherwax-Ripley’s Beach Christmas tree. It is one of five Christmas trees in the home. This one features sea shells and other marine items she’s collected.
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 31
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While the menu changes monthly, one thing remains the same: Juliano’s keeps guests on their toes.
Juliano’s AN ECLECTIC CHOICE
BY TARA CADY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRONTË WITTPENN Juliano’s has character — and we’re not just talking about its owner and award-winning chef Carl Kurokawa. Carl, who came to Montana with “a smile and ‘aloha,’” has introduced a palate to Big Sky Country so distinct that we’re not sure how to pronounce the dishes. Inspired by his childhood spent in Hawaii and Japanese-American heritage, Carl brings savory seafood and poultry to Juliano’s, a quaint nook nestled between residences in downtown Billings. Just in time for the restaurant’s annual holiday closure, we’ve captured some of Juliano’s ever-changing menu options. While you wait for its 2017 reopening, try following a recipe or two. Who knows, it might become one of your family’s favorite holiday meals.
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 33
Chinese BBQ Pork Bao These taco-like treats are the perfect appetizer for a holiday party at the office, though you might eat them up quicker than you can cook them. INGREDIENTS: Bao Dough 2/3 c. warm water 2 t. instant yeast 2 T. sugar 1 T. oil 1-1/2–2 c. flour 1 t. salt 1/4 t. baking soda
BBQ Pork Marinade 1 /3 c. honey 1/3 c. brown sugar 1/2 c. soy sauce 2 T. hoi sin 1/2 c. white wine 1 t. 5-spice 2 t. red food coloring
Dissolve yeast in water with sugar. Add flour and mix. Add oil, salt and baking soda, and knead ‘til smooth. Rest the dough for about 15 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room and relative humidity. Cut 1 oz. balls and flatten. Steam in perforated pan or basket for several minutes ‘til done. Fold in half like a taco when dough is cooked. Mix all ingredients for marinade and soak pork belly for 24 to 48 hours, turning the pork belly regularly. Cook hanging over grill ‘til done.
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BEAN SPROUT KIMCHI INGREDIENTS: 1 lb. bean sprouts 2 T. salt Pepper flakes 1/2 t. ginger, minced DIRECTIONS:
Blanch for 10 seconds in boiling water, then drain and cool. Add salt to cooled sprouts and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours. Rinse sprouts and add pepper flakes, minced ginger and garlic. Mix flavors into sprouts and let sit for 4 hours to let fermentation begin. Place in glass jars and refrigerate. Slice BBQ pork, place into dough tacos with Kimchi sprouts. Top with sambal mayonnaise.
Fried Green Tomatoes No, not the movie from 1991. These fried green tomatoes are a tasty pre-dinner snack, best served on game night or during your annual white elephant gift exchange. INGREDIENTS: Green tomatoes 2 eggs Flour 1/2 c. bread crumbs (Panko)
Salt Pepper Parsley, chopped Grated Romano cheese
Slice tomatoes 1/2-inch-thick and dredge in flour. Dip in beaten eggs, then crumbs with seasonings. Fry in oil ‘til brown. Serve with goat cheese and balsamic-olive oil drizzle.
Measuring Up What does it take to measure up to our clients’ expectations? It requires establishing a schedule that lets them know when their renovation project will begin, when it will end and every step along the way. It means communicating with them as often as they’d like, in the ways they want. It means only working with quality construction professionals our clients welcome in their homes, and treating those homes with respect. Most importantly, it means exceeding our clients’ expectations when it comes to their home remodel by creating the rooms they’ve always dreamed of in a way they never thought possible. What does it take to measure up? Contact us today to find out for yourself.
Freyenhagen Construction. Built for Life. (406) 652-6170 1343 Broadwater Avenue Billings, MT 59102 www.FreyenhagenConstruction.com
MAGIC •CITYCUSTOM MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 35 INTERIOR & EXTERIORS
POKE THREE WAYS Indulge in every seafood lover’s delight: a combined salmon, barracuda and ahi tuna dish decorated with macadamia and pine nuts for an exotic epicurean experience. INGREDIENTS: Salmon 2 oz. salmon, cubed 1/2 oz. sesame oil 1 oz. toasted pine nuts 1 T. green onion 1 t. sambal 2 T. ogo, chopped
Butter-roasted New Zealand Pink Cusk Eel The recipe is short and sweet, just like the eel. Having this melt-in-your-mouth fish roasting in the oven makes any kitchen feel like a gourmet chef’s palace. INGREDIENTS: 12 oz. Cusk eel 4 T. butter Salt and pepper to taste
Barracuda 2 oz. barracuda, cubed 1/2 oz. sesame oil 1/2 oz. macadamia nuts, chopped 1 T. green onion 1 t. sambal 2 T. ogo, chopped 2 T. masago Ahi Tuna 2 oz. tuna, cubed 1/2 oz. sesame oil 1/2 oz. macadamia nuts, chopped 1 T. green onion 1 t. sambal 2 T. ogo, chopped DIRECTIONS:
Mix in separate bowls. Scoop onto plate. Garnish with ogo.
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Cut eel to the portion size you want. Heat skillet, melt butter and sear the eel. Top with more butter and roast in oven at 350-degrees ‘til done. Serve with your favorite mashed potato and vegetable. Top with fried greens (frisée, spinach or lettuce).
Beaujolais Poached Pears Beaujolais is made of grapes from the Beaujolais area of France. The red wine’s sweetness adds to the natural sugars of the pear, making your regular midnight snack jealous and your guests craving seconds. INGREDIENTS: 1 c. Beaujoulais wine 1/2 c. sugar Whipped cream Nuts DIRECTIONS:
Cut pear in half. Peel and seed. Place in pan and cover with Beaujolais and sugar. Bring up to 207 degrees and slow poach ‘til tip of knife goes into pears easily. Remove from poaching liquid and serve with whipped cream and nuts.
Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake You better save room for this can’t-believe-it’s-not-flour dessert’s fluffy goodness. It’s not the icing on the cake, but the whipped cream and chocolate sauce that concludes a successful dinner night. INGREDIENTS: 12 oz. butter 4 oz. chocolate 1-1/2 c. sugar
6 T. cocoa powder Vanilla Whipped cream
Separate eggs and whip whites. Melt butter and chocolate, adding sugar, cocoa powder, yolks and vanilla. Mix and add 1/3 of whipped whites, continuing to mix. Fold in rest of whites. Place in buttered ramekins and bake at 350-degrees for 17 minutes. Top with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
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DUCK SATAY ON GREEN ZUCCHINI SALAD The few days it takes to prepare this exquisite meal is well worth it. The phenomenal poultry dish will wow guests and leave them asking for seconds. INGREDIENTS: Satay Marinade 1-1/2 c. soy sauce 3 green onions, chopped 1/2 c. brown sugar 1 t. ginger Green Zucchini Dressing 1/2 c. lime juice 3 T. sugar 3 T. fish sauce 3 chili peppers, chopped
1 1 1 1
t. garlic T. sambal t. cilantro T. sesame oil
1/4 c. peanuts, chopped 1 fresh tomato, muddled
Marinate duck pieces for two days in satay marinade. Thread on skewer and grill. Finish in oven â€˜til interior temperature is 145-150 degrees. Mix all ingredients for salad dressing. Pour over grated green zucchini. Place salad in the middle of plate and put cooked duck skewer on salad. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and green onions.
January 21 - 22, 2017 Home Builders Association of Billings, Inc.
38 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
MetraPark Montana Pavilion
MIXIN’ IT UP
MONTANA STYLE STARTING FROM SCRATCH AT DIRTY OSCAR’S ANNEX BY JEFF WELSCH | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRONTË WITTPENN
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 39
Dirty Oscar’s Annex bartender Colin Smith, left, chef Aaron Grissom, center, and owner Rachel Barth operate Dirty Oscar’s Annex.
On a sparse 70-mph stretch of US 87, in an otherwise cookie-cutter burger-and-Budweiser log saloon 16 miles south of the gritty coal community of Roundup, an unlikely troupe of Tacoma, Wash., transplants is scheming and dreaming.
artender Colin Smith, a towering behind-the-bar presence whose name bubbles to the surface on any list of top Tacoma ’tenders, schemes of an infinite array of custom-infused spirits, house-made syrups, juices, sodas and tinctures featuring his own deft touches while honoring traditional classics as a nod to “the Godfather of classic cocktails,” Jerry Thomas. Tattoo-sleeved Aaron Grissom, who became a chef at age 19, dreams of a frontier-urban food menu with appetizers and entrees like those that landed him on the Bravo program “Top Chef ”; his tasso tacos and made-from-scratch parmesan tater tots drew Guy Fieri’s attention and a spot on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
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Above: Painted deer skulls hang from the walls at Dirty bartender Colin Smith lights lemon oil on fire as a part
Dirty Oscar’s Annex near Roundup. Right: Dirty Oscar’s Annex a part of a garnish for the Amaretto Sour cocktail.
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“It’s going to be consistent with what’s happening in the bar – classic cuisine, 100 percent from scratch,” Grissom explains. From behind the L-shaped mahogany bar, where he lights a “shockand-awe” fire atop an orange-tinted amaretto sour, Smith adds, “I want to reintroduce this area to the evolution of cocktails.” At the root of all this libation and culinary ambition are Jake and Rachael Barth, who stumbled upon Roundup during a homecoming snowstorm four Octobers ago while driving home to the Puget Sound from property holdings in the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota. “I instantly fell in love with it,” recalls Rachael Barth, who describes Roundup as a community that “wraps its arms around me and my children” during Jake’s frequent road trips. The Barths moved to Roundup soon after and two years later bought the perpetually for-sale Branding Iron Saloon. They renamed it Dirty Oscar’s Annex for the popular Tacoma watering hole where Jake Barth was co-owner, Grissom served as executive chef and Smith worked his mixology magic. Undaunted by Roundup’s proximity to the geographic center of nowhere and the town’s anxiety over the future of its coal-driven economy, the immigrant owners envision a gravel parking lot full of Montana license plates from near and far. The clientele will be drawn to this arid pine and scrub outpost by the frontier-urban, always-changing, everything-homemade – yes, everything, right down to the salt, ketchup, seasonings, rubs, pasta and handcarved ice — drink and food menus resulting from the synergistic creativity of Smith and Grissom. The Barths began renovations immediately and provided glimpses of the future with cleverly named spirits and an equally creative menu that brought flair to meat-and-potato saloon fare. For two years they operated under an interim manager, bartender and chef, until Smith and Grissom arrived in late October. With the Barths’ blessings, the duo is going full throttle on a complete food-and-drink renaissance they plan to unveil to the public in early 2017, so don’t bother memorizing either menu. They’re keeping their future plans close to the vest, but acknowledge a commitment to sourcing their meats, produce, breads and cheese regionally, and eventually building a greenhouse for yearround herbs and greens destined to go on the plate or into the glass. And of the front man for it all is Smith, who “thoroughly enjoys
Bartender Colin Smith likes to stay within an orientation of classic cocktails, with his ultimate goal being to build cocktail culture. Dirty Oscar’s Annex continues that culture near Roundup with the Old Fashioned. INGREDIENTS: 2 oz. Maker’s Mark bourbon 2 dashes of angostura bitters 1 pinch allspice, ground .25 oz. honey syrup 1 zest burnt orange oil
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Inspired by well-known bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the Amaretto Sour is Colin Smith’s tasty spin-off cocktail. INGREDIENTS: 1.5 oz. cinnamon-infused tequila 1 oz. Amaretto .75 oz. lemon juice 1 dash angostura bitters 1 egg white, beaten A dash of ground cinnamon for garnish
There’s no need to wait for dessert with the Paloma, a mixture of tequila, cinnamon syrup, grapefruit and jalapeño best served with dinner. Indulging with an appetizer is not discouraged. INGREDIENTS: 1.5 oz. blanco tequila .75 oz. grapefruit juice .5 oz. cinnamon syrup 1 slice jalapeño, muddled 1 lemon twist 1 basil leaf
DIRECTIONS: Place basil and jalapeño in cocktail, shake and gently muddle. Add remaining ingredients and shake until well-chilled. Strain into icefilled glass and garnish with lemon twist and basil leaf.
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when a person smiles (after that first sip).” Oh, and to allay customer worries about hitting the road after an evening of imbibing, Dirty DIRECTIONS: Oscar’s offers free meals Dry shake ingredients and to designated drivers. strain over ice in old-fashioned “It’s all been theory glass. Add garnish. and concept until about a week ago,” Grissom said. “The whole idea is to bring farm to table to life. It’s up to us as cooks and bartenders to bring it to the public. We don’t expect it to happen overnight.” After years amid the bright lights, sights and sounds of the Puget Sound, these unlikely transplants realize the challenges of setting up shop where a half-dozen owners tried and gave up. But the team is undeterred. Their scheming and dreaming brought them to this place, and they’re confident they’ve found a new home for the long haul. “We’re just kind of getting back to our roots,” Grissom said. “We think this couldn’t be a better platform.”
SIXTH TIMEâ€™S A CHARM THE RISE OF LEGENDARY BILLINGS MAYOR WILLARD E. FRASER BY DARRELL EHRLICK
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hose good ol’ boys down at Billings City Hall loved to snicker at the perennial joke: It would be a cold day in hell when Willard Fraser became the mayor of Billings. That wasn’t just a spiteful saying. It seemed to be the truth. Fraser had lost his bid for mayor in 1933, 1949, 1951, 1953 an 1957. He was a fivetime loser. A Democrat in a solidly Republican town. But the temperature on April 2, 1963 only reached 30 degrees. No telling what the temperature in hell was then, but in Billings, it was chilly. Meanwhile, temperature around Fraser was full of warmth, bordering on hot air. “I consider this a complete repudiation of the irresponsible spending of the federal government as shown by the federal building which spends $20 when $6 will do that job, and of the state highway department for tearing down the Rimrocks for an unnecessary road,” Fraser said on Election Night 1963.
ABOUT THIS SERIES 46 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
Mayor Willard E. Fraser with the Typical Willard overartist James Kenneth Ralston statement. and Willo Ralston in 1965. Fraser He hadn’t even gotten served as mayor from May 6, 1963-May 5, 1969 and May 3, 33 percent of the vote. 1971-Sept. 19, 1972. Fraser ran for And that same terrible mayor five times, and lost, before road which, according to prevailing in 1963 to become one him, voters had repudiatof Billings’ most colorful and best ed was the same street he’d remembered leaders. be praising just two years PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WESTERN later when he would lobby HERITAGE CENTER for jet service, bragging that we had a great road to our airport — just minutes from downtown. It was a shocking start to what would be likely the most colorful and visionary of any Billings mayoral tenure. Fraser, referred to by The Billings Gazette as “the perennial candidate” had become “his honor.” Fraser would rise, fall and see his career resurrected again in the short span of nine years. His list of accomplishments is just a fraction of the ideas he had for Billings. Those ideas would come at a frantic and frenetic pace. Gazette reporter Gary Svee remembers being inundated daily with a flurry of press releases, all from Willard’s office. And that’s another thing: He was so well known, so commonly
This is the first in a four-part series chronicling the rise, fall, resurrection and legacy of Billings Mayor Willard E. Fraser.
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Billings Gazette, April 2, 1963.
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found on the front pages of the newspaper and every local function that he was simply referred to as “Willard” — everyone knew who that was. One of Fraser’s first moves after being elected in 1963 was to install a modern recording and dictating system in the mayor’s office — no more shorthand for his secretary. She was stunned by his pace, as he sometimes dictated more than 60 letters daily. Willard’s start as mayor was inauspicious. There was little to suggest that he’d revolutionize Billings in less than a decade’s time. When running for mayor in 1963, he ran on two issues that were hardly visionary. For more than a decade, Fraser
stood opposed to the federal g o v e r n m e nt’s idea of constructing a new federal building. The attempt was little more than a personal vendetta. Fraser owned a downtown office building, and the federal government was his main tenant. When a government report demanded he make upgrades, including such things as refrigerated water fountains, or he would risk losing the lease, Fraser took on Uncle Sam. Fraser even took out a half-page advertisement in The Gazette, which began by quoting Abraham Lincoln. The ad had small type used for sports scores so that Fraser could include every arcane point.
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MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 47
Signature of former Billings mayor Willard Fraser. LARRY MAYER/GAZETTE STAFF
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“BUT AGAIN, HIS COMMITMENT SEEMS TOTAL AND IF THE JOB ISN’T DONE NEXT WEEK — THERE’S THE WEEK AFTER THAT.”
“Because the businessmen of Billings, Montana, have provided all the needed office space at reasonable rentals, that the varying agencies of the government require in Billings, I am appearing before (Congressional Appropriations Committee) to protest any appropriation for the construction of the proposed federal office building.” Those “reasonable rentals” of course, were the ones he set for his own property. The federal government was unswayed by the Fraser fusillade of words and kept on building a federal building in the heart of downtown. Fraser also saw the expansion of Airport Road as destroying the Rims — not surprising for a guy who majored in archaeology. “Mr. Fraser’s estimate of the need or value of the new airport road also comes into sharper focus now that the airport will be demanding some of his attention as chief executive of the city,” The Gazette editorial said the day after his election. “Fortunately, other mayors and The Montana Highway Department took a different view and we now have a short and direct route from the city to what is an unusually fine airport for a community this size.” And almost as soon as Fraser had been elected, the issues of a federal building and a new road to the airport were replaced by a volley of newer ideas. Billings was quickly learning it had elected have fluoride and was miffed when residents flatly rejected it. one of the most colorful characters in Montana government. “Fear and hate defeated fluoridation in the recent elecIt didn’t take long for the city to witness change — and lots tion,” Fraser told a group of school kids at Fratt School. “I was shocked that people didn’t listen to doctors and dentists, but of it. Barely a month into his tenure, he put the kibosh on hiring the wise people did listen to the dentists.” He predicted that Billings would eventually change and add a former firefighter as the city-county civil defense director. Shortly after that, he called for the sacking of the fair director. the cavity-fighting chemical to the water. Fraser may be surprised that a half-century later, Billings’ water supply is still The fair board “told him bluntly to mind his own business.” He believed fervently that Billings’ water supply should fluoride free.
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Where Mayor Harold Gerke had kept a tidy desk, Willard’s was as scattered as his rapid-fire thoughts and ideas. “The mayor must sometimes spend minutes hunting through letters, papers and postcards before coming up with the thing he wants,” a reporter noted in a one-year review in office. “He always does... The mayor feels he has messages to get across and his mind is always active. “It is often blunt.” It was clear even people who watched City Hall weren’t quite sure what to make of Willard. In truth, they had never seen anything like him, and were unlikely to encounter someone who seemed to be making up for all the elections he’d lost in a single year. “He is fond of words and where he thinks he’s said something worth saying, he says it again. “And again. And again.” In one year with Fraser at the helm, department heads had changed. He began crusading to have Pictograph State Park recognized as a cultural and historical location, fought to have fluoride in the water, and he was raising hell about slums. “Fraser’s latest personal crusade is city cleanup and elimination of the city’s slum area. Not all city officials are as convinced as the mayor is that a complete cleanup can be had,” The Gazette reported. “But again, his commitment seems total and if the job isn’t done next week — there’s the week after that.” Willard was redefining the office, and some were shocked that he wasn’t sticking with a more traditional agenda. “Not much tangible in the way of new buildings, streets, etc., has been accomplished in the first year of Fraser’s administration,” The Gazette summarized. “But his fans say the mayor has made people aware of Billings’ great potential and of the problems which must be solved before that potential is realized. “It is a start, they say, a start that sometimes goes off half cocked. But Fraser has another year to go. He appears to have relished the first one.” Fraser created a national scene and seemed to solve it in a way that made him the hero. When Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, visited Billings in the summer of 1964, she was greeted enthusiastically by Willard and a throng of citizens. As with most national dignitaries, she was presented with the key to city. Literally. The City of Billings only had one golden ceremonial key to the city. When visiting dignitaries and celebrities were presented with the key, customarily
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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WESTERN HERITAGE CENTER
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Helena offered a new key, with an engraving that read, “Presented to the citizens of Billings by Helena.” Mrs. Lewis Johnson of Billings made a huge ceramic key that would have lessened the likelihood of it being pocketed in the future. “God knows,” was the brief quip by Fraser when asked what he would do with the large gift. By the time the story had made its round to papers like the Houston Chronicle and International Herald Tribune, Montana’s junior Senator, Lee Metcalf, had even gotten involved. “I am sure you agree our first lady should continue to enjoy the hospitality of Montana and of Billings, and I think that as a memento of that welcome she should be permitted to keep the key. “I am sure you agree also that Billings’ hospitality, to which I can personally attest, is great enough to accommodate more than one key-holder at a time,” Metcalf said. “If there is some financial probFirst Lady Bird Johnson tours Montana during her visit here in 1964. She met with tribal lem involved of which I am unaware, leaders including Betty Babcock, right. I would be honored to replace the key to your fine city.” In other words: cool it, Willard. they were forced to turn it back after the glad-handing and the Metcalf claimed that the missing key had been “misundercameras had been turned off. Billings was nothing if not thrifty. But in the hubbub of the First Lady’s visit, someone had stood in some quarters.” Not just in any old quarters, but in the White House. forgotten to explain to Lady Bird Johnson, Billings needed its Montana’s other senator, Mike Mansfield, went directly to key back. And there were simply too many visiting officials and Lyndon B. Johnson. An old dictaphone tape in the LBJ Presicelebrities to meet for Willard to be without his key. Fraser went on a crusade to get the key, which quickly be- dential Library preserved the conversation. Mansfield’s suggested “return the goddman key and take came a national story during an election year about how the First Lady had run off with the city’s only key and a skinflint advantage of it.” President Johnson picked up a newspaper and started readmayor who was bound to get it back. Willard basked in the attention. The story grew — and so ing it to the First Lady: “’But no, Mrs. LBJ, that’s not the way did the purported value of the key. Willard’s own little joke it’s done in Billings, whose vocal city fathers give the same old was that the key was made with pure Alkali Creek Gold (wink, key to all visiting dignitaries. It’s inscribed ‘Billings, Star of the wink, wink). One media outlet far away from Montana staked Big Sky Country.’ Just drop it in a mailbox as you would a hotel room key and Billings guarantees postage.” a value of $2,500 on the key. “Well, all I hope is I can find that key,” Lady Bird said, laughIn reality, the value was more in the neighborhood of $30. Of course, Fraser wrote a lengthy letter to Lady Bird while ing. Mansfield laughed too. letters and telegrams flooded City Hall with offers to replace “Can you take proper action and see that Billings people the ceremonial key. The Vulcans, a notable Montana rock band from Missoula, played a concert in Billings, offering to donate know you are sorry you messed them up?” Lyndon Johnson said. the money to Willard and the city for a new key. The First Lady laughed again. Walkerville’s mayor sent a check.
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“I hope that if you find the key, we can take full advantage of it and make sure we get some profit out of it politically and otherwise. And if you don’t find the key, forget it. To hell with them,” Mansfield said. “Alright, I will look for the Billings, Montana, key,” Lady Bird said. “There are 269 keys in other cities and I didn’t look carefully and realize this one was just a prop.” The president laughed. “They’re Indian givers, but if you can’t find it, don’t worry. Don’t look too hard,” Mansfield said. Days later, the key returned to Billings with a note from Lady Bird. “My visit to the Big Sky Country was a memorable experience and receiving the key to the city of Billings was one of the highlights,” Lady Bird wrote. “However, with an economical husband who walks around turning out the lights here in the White House, I do not feel I should keep such an expensive key that could be used again. “It is being sent back to you today — but I hope you will keep it under the mat for me for I hope someday to return to your beautiful and friendly city,” the First Lady said.
“HIS CAR WOULD STOP ONCE, SOMETIMES TWICE, AS WILLARD RID HIMSELF OF THE TENSION WHICH HAD BUILT UP THROUGH THE EVENING BY BECOMING PHYSICALLY ILL.” ADDISON BRAGG
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The next time another First Lady would visit — in 1972, just one day before Fraser’s death — Willard would not take the same risk again. He presented Pat Nixon with a leatherbound copy of Billings’ artist J.K. Ralston’s, “Rhymes of a Cowboy.” Billings residents quickly learned they had something different in this mayor who once used poetry as a weapon against prying reporters who were asking too many uncomfortable questions. When Fraser was being pressed on an office building he owned which was going to be foreclosed, he got frustrated with answering questions about the sensitive issue, for which he blamed the federal government. Unsatisfied with Fraser’s answers, the reporters pressed on. Abruptly, Fraser announced he was closing the question period of the conference and instead going to hold a public reading of his father-in-law, Robert Frost’s poetry — something he often did, but not usually as a way to thwart the press. Frost said good fences make for good neighbors. Good poetry, in this case, made a good fence between Fraser and The Gazette, which stuck around long enough to hear a couple poems and then head back to the offices to write. The ideas churned out of Fraser’s office at a breakneck pace, so many that it was hard to keep track of them all. In the barrage of ideas - many little more than half-baked - there were plans that were downright innovative. Fraser was lobbying for jet service in Billings. He was writing hundreds — if not thou-
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The Fraser Building, located at the
corner of 8th Avenue North and sands — of letters to polNorth 29th Street, is demolished in iticians, business leaders June 1991. The building, formerly and fellow dreamers, owned by the Willard E. Fraser urging them to come to Company, was used by the federal Billings because it was a government for office space for many years. Willard Fraser, the town doing great things, company’s owner, was a six-term and he didn’t want anyBillings mayor who died in office in one to miss its oppor1972. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO tunity for greatness. He saw Billings Heights as having more annexation potential than simply growing to the west. And he believed Billings needed a bigger, better library — not the one the Moss family helped build nearly three-quarters of a century ago. It was hard for the public to keep up. What virtually no one saw was the sharp physical toll the job took on Fraser, already weakened by chronic asthma and years spent as a combat engineer in World War II. Willard seemed to revel in the back-and-forth of a good argument, never appearing to let his momentary rivals get the best of him. After exiting City Hall, a police car would chauffeur him home. “His car would stop once, sometimes twice, as Willard rid himself of the tension which had built up through the evening by becoming physically ill,” wrote Addison Bragg. “This then was the man they once called ‘a raving maniac,’ ‘a goofy buzzard,’ and a ‘chronic liar.’”
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Christmas LIGHTS PAST Fâ€Œ irst comes Thanksgiving, then comes Christmas Wreath Lane and the rest of Billings holiday cheer. What began in 1961, Christmas Wreath Lane started a holiday tradition where entire neighborhoods decorate their streets as they would their homes with magical displays of lights, reindeer, Santas and the like. Candy Cane Lane, Misfit Lane, Christmas Tree Trail and Whoville add to an even longer list, requiring Billings residents to pick up a map and prepare for a long illuminated drive. Step back in time and rediscover the tradition that has kept the wintry night scene alive in Billings during the holidays.
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A lighted nutcracker hangs over a downtown Billings street in 1978. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOâ€Œ
Above: Christmas decorations light up downtown Billings along Second Avenue North in 1978. Left: Decorations light up downtown Billings near the corner of North Broadway and Second Avenue North in December 1981. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOâ€ŒS
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MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 57
Top: The Christmas Wreath Lane sign is seen in 1978. Christmas Wreath Lane began in 1961 when neighbors in the 1900 block of Avenue D agreed to put lighted wreaths on their homes. The tradition has grown to other blocks and includes dozens of houses. Above: The Christmas Wreath Lane sign is seen in 1980. Right: Trees on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn are decorated for Christmas in 1979. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOâ€ŒS
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A double exposure shows Christmas lights on the Midland Bank weather beacon (which has been removed) and other decorations in downtown Billings in December 1981.
A Christmas lighting display shines at a Billings home in December 1977. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOâ€ŒS
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Above: A lighting display shines through steam from the Conoco refinery in Billings in December 1991. Right: A full moon shines over a Christmas lighting display at 3212 Sixth Ave. S. in December 1992. Bottom: A home at 1922 Avenue B in Billings is decorated for Christmas in 1992. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOâ€ŒS
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Above: Christmas lights shine at a Billings home in December 1988. Left: Christmas lights illuminate a tree in the yard of a Billings home in December 1988. Top: A Christmas lighting display including both a nativity scene and Santa and his reindeer could be seen at a Billings home in December 1992. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOâ€ŒS
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BY LORN A T H A CK ERAY
CHRISTMAS IN BILLINGS From its frontier days filled with drunken Christmas brawls and holiday homicides to spending frenzies that now begin in early October, Billings has always celebrated the season with exuberance.
ts cast of characters may be less colorful these days. Calamity Jane no longer stumbles off the train ragged, sick and drunk as she did a few days after Thanksgiving in 1902. Nor does Butch Cassidy pay surreptitious visits to his old haunts in Wyoming as he did that same year. No one dared turn him in for the $25,000 reward, but nervous bankers and merchants armed themselves. Through its entire history, true Christmas spirit has always been part of the celebration. Every year merchants, charities, churches and service clubs have thoughtfully planned and executed campaigns to make sure the poor and forsaken have at least a good meal and a gift or two. Pioneer merchant John D. Losekamp set the tone for the next 134 years of Billings Christmas history. In 1882, the year Billings was born, he established a clothing store on Montana Avenue. When Christmas rolled around, he made it his business to see that every child in the community received a gift. He kept the tradition for decades, distributing hundreds of presents to children from every social sphere. On Christmas Day 1900, The Billings Gazette reported that between 200 and 300 children lined up in front of his store for gifts that ranged from books to bicycles and everything in between. Each Christmas season reflected the tenor of its time. In the prosperous 1900s, with the city growing at an astounding rate, major department stores and an array of
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A white Christmas that year with subzero temperature gave a glimmer of hope to the dryland farmers who hoped a wet winter would mean a better spring. 64 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
theaters crowded a bustling downtown. Automobiles, electricity, telephones and homesteaders transformed the city. The town Christmas tree was adorned with electric lights that stunned when a switch was flipped. Colorful electric bulbs replaced candles on residents’ trees, much to the relief of the fire chief. Some might not have found Christmas as jolly after 1916, when Montana voted in prohibition six years before it became law in the rest of the land. When drought depopulated dryland homesteads in the 1920s and banks started to fail, Christmas was perhaps a little more subdued. Nonetheless Santa flew in on an airplane heavy with gifts in 1926. He proceeded to the Post Office and scooped up letters written to him by local children. Santa was pleased by most of the requests, which were modest in keeping with the economic situation. Adult holiday makers had reason to cheer when Montana voters decided in 1926 to repeal the state’s prohibition laws – again well ahead of the rest of the country. When the Great Depression struck in the 1930s, Billings did not feel the pain as severely as most of Montana and the rest of the country. Its diverse economy and the massive Huntley Irrigation Project shielded it from the worst. But poverty stalked even Billings, as well as dryland farming communities struggling with drought and dust. Charities and service organizations stepped in to do all they could, though they had to be more selective. Fewer food baskets were prepared and families already on county welfare programs were excluded. “The families who will receive these Christmas dinners are not on relief, but are Garlands and just able to exist without receiving public Christmas trees line charity,” Maj. Thomas Mitchell of the SalThird Avenue North vation Army reported in 1934. “Were it not in downtown Billings for the baskets, these families would be able in December 1981. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO to have only a meager holiday.” Billings did not forget its neighbors that year. Kiwanis Club members filled more than 800 Christmas stockings with sweets for distribution to children in dryland areas of Yellowstone County. Perhaps as a sign of the times, Billings’ liquor store reported record-breaking business. By closing time Christmas Eve, its shelves were empty. “Because of the rush in the early evening, it was necessary to have a policeman on hand to supervise the crowd,” The Gazette noted. A white Christmas that year with subzero temperature gave a glimmer of hope to the dryland farmers who hoped a wet winter would mean a better spring.
World War II dominated Christmas in the early 1940s. Two years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Billings citizens decided that, for the first time, downtown would not be decorated. Residents also reigned in their Christmas cheer in 1943. Many homes had empty chairs at the table with young men and women absent for war duty. Trees went unlighted as bulbs were scarce because manufacturers had been forbidden to produce such frivolities as war raged around the world. The Red Cross asked residents to welcome into their homes servicemen passing through Billings. Invitations poured in with families volunteering to host between two and five soldiers for a holiday meal. Individuals and service clubs provided gifts and homemade candies and cakes. Seth Collins Whitten celebrated his 18th birthday three days before Christmas 1943 and walked into the Billings Selective Service Office to announce “This is what I have been waiting for. I want to register and get into the service right pronto.” He was ordered to report for duty Jan. 5, 1944. On Christmas Day 1943, taxpayers got some good news and then some not so
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good news. The state of Montana had levied the lowest taxes ever for state purposes. But federal tax demands in the state nearly doubled to $50 million to support the war effort. Peace, Cold War, television and The Bomb dominated the 1950s and early 1960s. Christmases were quieter – less community-oriented and revolving more around individual families. Shopping was concentrated downtown where big department stores still held sway. With gasoline rationing at an end, cars competed with passenger trains for travelers. Northern Pacific ran “Santa Claus Specials” to make extra room for holiday passengers. By the mid-1970s, downtown merchants struggled against competition from stores at the shiny new Rimrock Mall on the city’s West End. Today, as the mall moves into its fifth decade, it finds itself in a fierce battle with online retailers who are again changing the face of holiday shopping. The constants remain in Billings after more than a century – Santa always comes and the spirit of giving continues. John D. Losekamp would be proud.
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New Years Eve, Times Square, Manhattan COURTESY OF JULIENNE SCHAER/NYC & COMPANY
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NEW YEAR’S EVE Destinations BY LAUREN LEWIS
New Year’s Eve is the ultimate excuse to party, and while many cities in the U.S. hold festivities, a few outshine the rest. With 2017 quickly approaching, now is the time to decide whether to stick around town or take a trip. New Year’s Eve is on a Saturday this year, making it the perfect time for a weekend adventure. So before you start your New Year’s resolutions, start your year off in style at one of these destinations.
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New Year’s Eve in Nashville. COURTESY OF NASHVILLE CONVENTION & VISITORS CORPORATION
New Year’s Eve in the Crescent City is a night to remember. The countdown to midnight begins at Nashville is synonymous with the Riverfront and Artillery Park, country music and the town goes all across from Jackson Square at 11:45 out for New Year’s Eve. It hosts Jack p.m. When the clock hits midnight, Daniel’s Music City Midnight with an 8-foot-tall fleur-de-lis drops from live music from Keith Urban, Styx, the roof of JAX Brewery, followed by A Thousand Horses and more. At fireworks on the Mississippi River. midnight, Nashville’s signature MuTickets to watch the event from sic Note Drop, a 15-foot-tall red muthe JAX Brew house start at $85 and sic note covered in lights, descends include an open bar and champagne from a 145 foot structure in front of toast, or celebrate in Jackson Square the Tennessee State Capitol buildfor free. Music performances from ing, triggering fireworks and confetti Luke Winslow King, Cyril Neville’s cannons. Swamp Funk and special guest Big A second fireworks show is held Chief Monk Boudreaux begin at the across the Cumberland River, with Decatur Stage in Jackson Square at shuttles available for revelers to travel 9 p.m. between the two locations. The anIf packed streets aren’t your style, nual event, located at Bicentennial COURTESY OF REBECCA RATLIFF head out to the river and take a New Capitol Mall State Park, is free to the New Year’s Eve fleur-de-lis drop in New Orleans. Year’s riverboat cruise on the Steampublic, and opens at 4 p.m. boat Natchez or the Creole Queen For a smaller venue, catch a performance from the Grammy-winning Old Crow Medicine for some of the best fireworks views in the city, plus music, Show at 10 p.m. at the Ryman Auditorium with tickets ranging drinks and a buffet dinner. Boarding begins at 9:30 p.m. at the from $50 to $80. The concert has become a Nashville tradition Toulouse Street Wharf and tickets only set you back $175 for this iconic New Orleans experience. since 2009. Whatever celebration you choose, after midnight be sure to Other notable musical performances include Widespread Panic at the Bridgestone Arena, with tickets between $60 and take your drinks out onto famous Bourbon Street where live jazz $65, and John Prine & Jason Isbell at the Grand Ole Opry House, reigns. with tickets starting at $75.
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The quintessential U.S. party town gets one step crazier for New Year’s Eve festivities. The entire Las Vegas strip is closed to car traffic, becoming one giant block party with an expected 300,000 attendees. At midnight, a choreographed fireworks display launches from the tops of the casinos along the strip. Downtown Las Vegas’ official New Year’s Eve party, the Downtown Countdown Celebration at Fremont Street Experience, hosts a midnight countdown and fireworks show synchronized with virtual fireworks on Viva Vision, North America’s largest video screen. Tickets for the 21-and-up event are $35 when purchased online before Dec. 25, and $40 after that. The celebration lasts all night – from
New Year’s Eve on the Strip 6 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. – and features as seen from the Foundation three stages of rotating live enterRoom at Manadaly Bay Hotel & tainment. Casino on Friday July 1, 2016. If you are looking to ring in COURTESY OF MARK DAMON/LAS VEGAS the New Year with musical perforNEWS BUREAU mances, catch a concert by Bruno Mars at the new Park Theater at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino with tickets starting at $234 each. Or experience one of music’s most iconic performers at Caesar’s Palace where Elton John is playing a four-night stint over the holiday weekend. New Year’s Eve concert tickets begin at $155.
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WELL-KNOWN Manhattan (Times Square)
No New Year’s Eve article is complete without including Times Square. Counting down to midnight with the masses is a bucket-list experience for some. A literal ton-of-confetti is dropped onto the million-plus party goers, many of whom brave the cold of downtown Manhattan for hours just to catch a glimpse of the famous Waterford Crystal Ball dropped from the Times Square building. The 12-foot, 12,000 pound ball, covered in 2,688 crystals, is the worldwide icon for New Year’s Eve. For music lovers, Jessie J is the headliner for this year’s live Times Square New Year’s Eve pre-drop show performances. Other celebrity performances include Wiz Khalifa, Carrie Underwood, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan and Daya, among others. Live music starts at 3 p.m. with the NYPD closing the “firstcome, first-serve” viewing sections as they fill up. Some spectators show up as early as 10 a.m., so if you do decide to brave the cold, arrive early and be prepared.
While Times Square is the typical example of New Year’s Eve festivities for many people, Chicago also holds an increasingly popular celebration, Chi-Town Rising. Instead of a ball drop, a large silver star rises 365 feet into the air, accompanied by a fireworks display along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, synchronized to music. DJ Sye Young will spin tracks throughout the night, along with a variety of musical performances from The O’My’s, The Heard, Kweku Collings, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, and more. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and live music begins at 7 p.m. The free public event will also be broadcast live on television in the region and on radio station KISS-FM from iHeart Radio. No New Year’s trip to Chicago would be complete without enjoying the rides and attractions at Navy Pier along Lake Michigan, a great place to view the fireworks show close-up.
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Above: New Year’s Eve fireworks on Lake Michigan in Chicago. COURTESY OF CHOOSE CHICAGO Left: New Year’s Eve fireworks launched off the Space Needle in downtown Seattle. COURTESY OF DAVE MANDAPAT/SPACE NEEDLE LLC Seattle
Seattle hosts one of the world’s largest structure-launched fireworks displays, with 72 launch points on the Space Needle in the heart of downtown. Kick off your New Year at the Observation Deck Dance Party, with music from DJ Michelle Myers playing until 1:30 a.m. The party begins at 9 p.m. and costs $115 per person. Wine, dine and dance while you view the most spectacular view of the Space Needle fireworks though the glass ceiling at Chihuly Garden and Glass, an exhibit at the Seattle Center. Previous spectators describe the experience inside the Glasshouse at the Museum as being “engulfed in multicolored pyrotechnics,” according to Alisa Carroll, the director of public relations at Visit Seattle. The 21+ event costs $225, which includes appetizers, desserts, live music from the Craig Lawrence Band and a champagne toast at midnight. Or catch a performance from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the KeyArena from 3 to 6 p.m. or from 9 p.m. to midnight. The progressive rock band/symphony orchestra is stopping for their “Ghosts of Christmas Eve” tour, with tickets starting at $57. Getting to and from downtown celebrations is a breeze on New Year’s Eve thanks to Seattle’s Sound Transit Link light rail. An Orca pass is required. Check soundtransit.org for details
FAMILY FRIENDLY Denver
Zoo Year’s Eve: Kids-only “Bunk with the Beasts at the Denver Zoo” gives parents the opportunity to enjoy a night out downtown while their kids celebrate the New Year in a safe, fun environment. Kids learn about animals with a pizza party and educational fun. Tickets for the night cost $75 and include dinner, an evening snack and breakfast the next morning. Annual New Year’s Eve fireworks displays in COURTESY OF VISIT DENVER downtown Denver take New Year’s Eve fireworks in Denver, Colorado. place at both 9 p.m. for families, and the traditional midnight hour. The outdoor pedestrian walkway boasts a wide array of magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt-walkers, comedians and more. Noon Year’s Eve at the Children’s Museum of Denver provides all of the excitement and thrills of a classic New Year’s Eve party before bedtime: glittery ball drops each hour, rainbows of falling confetti and huge sheets of bubble wrap instead of fireworks for kids to stomp on. Children under 1 are free, with tickets costing $15 for participants ages 2-59, and $13 for those 60 and up.
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NEW YEAR’S EVE IN BILLINGS If you don’t want to go through the hassle of traveling during the holiday season, Billings is a great destination in itself for New Year’s celebrations. For a family friendly event, take the kids to ZooMontana, the state’s only zoo and botanical park, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Zoo Year: A Noon Year’s Eve Celebration features animal encounters, crafts, and a ball drop, followed by an apple juice toast at noon on the plaza. Don’t forget to bring sleds along if there’s snow on the ground, and enjoy sledding the hills in Bison Field. The Billings Symphony hosts Rockin’ New Year’s Eve at the Alberta Bair Theater, with live music from The Bucky Beaver Ground Grippers, The Midlife Chryslers and Ellen and the Old School. Tickets for this live event range from $25 to $50. For winter sports fans, the Billings Bulls will be playing the Bozeman Icedogs at 7:30 p.m. at the Centennial Ice Arena. If one night of New Year’s celebrations isn’t enough, check out Zoso—The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience on Friday Dec. 30 at the Pub Station Ballroom for a night of nostalgic live music. The concert costs $18 per person and starts at 9 p.m.
Above: Families celebrate New Year’s Eve at ZooMontana with their ZooYear, A Noon Year’s Eve Celebration with crafts, animals, sledding and a confetti drop. LARRY MAYER/GAZETTE STAFF Right: New Year’s Eve fireworks and torchlight parade at Whitefish, Montana. COURTESY OF BARCLAY Orlando
During New Year’s Eve, Orlando is the destination for families. Area theme parks come alive to say goodbye to the previous year. With no additional charges on the typical admission prices, the New Year is a great excuse to finally bring the kids on that theme park vacation they’ve been wanting. Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom features special presentations of the Main Street Electrical Parade and fireworks shows throughout the night. Or, celebrate “the New Year around the world” at the Epcot Center with live DJs and a special presentation of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” lights, lasers and fireworks display. For movie lovers, head over to Hollywood Studios to enjoy a collection of Disney movies, music and a kid-friendly DJ dance party around the Sorcerer Hat Stage. Ring in the New Year all before midnight at LEGOLAND’s Kids’ New Year’s Eve, with an exclusive dance party and unique LEGO brick drop. At the end of the night put on special viewing glasses and watch as fireworks explode into millions of tiny LEGO bricks.
NEAR HOME Whitefish
If you are looking to stick around Montana, but still crave a travel getaway, take a trip up to Whitefish. The local ski area, Whitefish Mountain Resort, is celebrating the New Year with an on-snow bar, ski and snowboard rail jam and a torchlight parade down the mountain. The free event starts at 5:15 p.m., with live music from Brent Jameson and the Sordid Seeds starting at 6:45 in Ed & Mully’s, a bar and grill at the base of the resort. At the end of the night, be sure to catch the fireworks extravaganza. After the mountain festivities, follow-up with late night partying at the local independently-operated bar the Bierstube for music, appetizers and a midnight champagne toast. If you aren’t up for braving the cold on the mountain, the Great Northern Bar & Grill has live music from the Lil’ Smokies band. Music starts at 7:30 p.m. with $30 tickets and features special guests Moonshine Mountain.
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THE SPLENDOR OF YELLOWSTONE PARK IN THE WINTER BY JACI WEBB
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A skier glides along a track on the Bannock Trail in Yellowstone Park. COURTESY OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK LODGESâ€Œ
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Old Faithful Snow Lodge provides rooms during the winter months. COURTESY OF SUZANN L
Gliding across fresh powder with only a swishing sound of skis on snow, it’s easy to be inspired by the quiet beauty of Yellowstone National Park in the winter. Yellowstone boasts more blue sky days than cloudy, even in the middle of winter. The crowds are gone and the animals are out. The bison snort and billow steam as they swing their massive heads, clearing the snow to nibble a patch of grass. Bull elk charge across a ridge and an occasional wolf can be spotted slinking through the trees in the snow-covered Lamar Valley. On Soda Butte Creek, moose wade through three-foot drifts, surprisingly limber for their size and the depth of the snow. 76 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
his is Yellowstone like you may never have seen it, and it is surprisingly accessible. The road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City runs year-round and there are several good ski trails near Mammoth and along the road to Cooke City: Upper Terrace Loop, Blacktail Plateau Trail, and the Tower Falls Trail along the road to Tower, which is closed to vehicles and groomed for skiing in the winter. “There are a million beautiful places to ski in Montana in the winter, but Yellowstone stands out because of the thermal features,” said Zachary Park, program manager for Yellowstone Forever Institute. “There is this beautiful interplay with the steam and the cold and the trees. Seeing Grand Prismatic Spring in the summer is impressive, but in the winter because of the cold temperature, the steam is thicker and it just billows.” If you want to get deeper into Yellowstone Park, snow coaches take visitors twice a day from Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, a four-hour guided trip with photo opportunities and rest stops. The coaches, which operate from Dec. 16 through Feb. 27, 2017, leave Mammoth at 7:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. daily. You can take the snow coach in the morning and return to Mammoth that afternoon or spend the night at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Reservations are advised at yellowstonenationalparklodges.com. The snow coaches are outfitted with either low-pressure tires or snow tracks so they can run even when there is not much snow. Yellowstone Forever, formerly known as the Yellowstone Association, provides educational
Snowshoes are also a good way to get around Yellowstone during the winter if an area is heavily wooded. COURTESY OF SUZANN L
Dusk comes early during winter in the mountains.
COURTESY OF JACI WEBBâ€Œ
A view of the Yellowstone River in the winter. COURTESY OF JACI WEBB
winter courses, including “Yellowstone on Skis” and “Learning to Ski in to see wolves, bighorn sheep, elk, bald eagles, bison, coyotes, fox, and ocWonderland.” For information about Yellowstone Forever courses, go to casionally, you might glimpse a mountain lion like he did one year. After a challenging summer with tourists getting too close to wildlife, Hoeningyellowstoneassociation.org. hausen emphasized that it is even more important to keep your distance from wildlife during the winter months. Soaking in the Boiling River “You don’t want to stress them out or chase them. We definitely want Don’t forget to take a soak in the Boiling River just inside Yellowstone Park’s north entrance at Gardiner. It’s pleasant to enjoy the natural hot to remind folks not to get too close because they are using all their energy springs without the summer crowds. Plan to pack a pair of water shoes just to stay warm and find food,” he said. Park said one of Yellowstone Forever’s classes helps visitors learn how to wade into the river for stability on the slippery rocks, and a towel. On occasion, a deer or elk will cross the Gardner River in the steam, or a bald to track animals in the snow. They have tracked weasels, snowshoe hares and once found the tracks of a flying squirrel. eagle may fly overhead, giving the scene a surreal touch. “The Boiling River is massively cool in the winter. It’s the best time ever to go there. You would think it would be cold, but the water is perfect and Elusive creatures warms you up for the walk back to your vehicle,” Park said. “There are a lot of elusive creatures, that in the winter time, you get a A ski shop is located in the fast food grill in Mammoth Hot Springs better sense of their presence,” Park said. as the Mammoth Hotel is under construction this year and 2017. Experts Most ski trails are groomed every day or two with a snowmobile and a there can tune your skis, give you ski lessons, provide information about tracking sled. If you’re not sure of the level of difficulty, check with the ski ski trails or rent you skis, boots and poles. There is also a ski shop at Old shop or look at the trails online. Faithful with lessons and rental ski equipment. One popular ski trip is the Blacktail Plateau Trail about eight miles west Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Yellowstone of Tower Junction. Skiers can drive there on their own, and if possible, Park Lodges, said of all the things you need to bring for a weekend trip to leave a vehicle at each end so they can take the full eight-mile trail without Yellowstone National Park in the winter, don’t forget your camera. Expect having to double back.
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Bison are scattered throughout Yellowstone. Skiers are advised to watch, but not approach them as they are already struggling to battle the cold and find food. COURTESY OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK LODGES
The Mammoth Terrace Loop offers stunning views of mountains and thermal features.
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COURTESY OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK LODGES
A skier takes in Old Faithful as she glides along one of several ski trails in the area.
Another good trail, especially for novice skiers, is the Mammoth Terrace Loop, about two miles southwest of Mammoth Hot Springs. “You get a gorgeous view looking back into the mountains of Montana and can ski by the Big Orange Mound. It’s a nice place to see some thermal features,” Hoeninghausen said. The snow coach will drop skiers off at Indian Creek Campground where there is a warming hut and trails. In the Old Faithful area, there The Mammoth Terrace Loop is a great are numerous trails for all skill levels, and skiers can also take a shutplace for novice skiers and a good tle to the Canyon area for skiing and dramatic views of the Grand opportunity to see thermal features. Canyon of the Yellowstone. COURTESY OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK LODGES “No matter what you are doing, it’s all about the park. It’s a Yellowstone experience on skis. You’re going to see the park and learn about what’s special at Yellowstone. There are a lot of places to ski, but there is only one Yellowstone Park,” Hoeninghausen said. Temperatures in the winter range from the teens and 20s all the way down to 20 degrees below zero. Old Faithful is 7,349 feet in elevation and receives more snow and cold temperatures than the more moderate Mammoth area, which sits at 6,700 feet and usually has less snow. “There is generally more snow in January and February, and the extended forecast for winter 2016-17 is for more moisture than usual,” Hoeninghausen said. Dress in layers and think about wearing wool, silk or synthetics to stay warm and dry. Pack a snack to eat along the trail, and always bring plenty of water or a filter to make water from the streams drinkable. “The rule is, you want to be a little cool when you should feel chilly when you get to the trailhead because you’re going to get warm when you start skiing,” Hoeninghausen said. Find your trail, prepare for changing weather conditions, and get ready for some soul-stirring beauty in Yellowstone Park in The road to Tower Falls provides good skiing for novice skiers and stunning views of the winter. the canyon and Tower Falls. COURTESY OF JACI WEBB
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Choose the Right Skis
Mammoth Hot Springs has a ski rental shop at the fast food 70 millimeters-wide for all-around skiing. grill, and ski rentals are available at the Old Faithful Snow The length you will need varies, depending on the model of Lodge. For more information, go to nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit ski and your height, weight and ability. An experienced sales or yellowstonenationalparklodges.com. person can help you find the right length of ski. In Billings, The Base Camp, 1730 Grand Ave., and Scheels, “The longer you go, the better the glide and the shorter the 1121 Shiloh Crossing Blvd., rent cross-country skis. The Base ski, the better control,” Parsanko said. Camp recommends you call the store at 248-4555 or stop in to reserve skis. At Scheels, a kiosk is set up in the back of the Waxless or waxable? Most rental skis are waxless, but store near the service department where you can rent skis. some racers prefer the waxable skis and are available as a specialty package. If you are a novice, you should probably Get the right skis: stick to waxless skis. If you are going to be skiing primarily on groomed trails, look for a medium-width ski that will be versatile enough Expect to pay around $15 a day for ski rentals for adults and to ski on tracks or off. The Base Camp hard goods manager $10 a day for children. For more information, contact The Janet Parsanko recommends getting skis that are 50 to Base Camp at 248-4555 or Scheel’s at 656-9220.
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ris Kringle has nothing on Bob Orr. Santa may make toys in his workshop, but even his most crafty elves couldn’t manage something like the all-wood to-scale crane, complete with counterweights and cables. Every piece of movable track on the World War II truck is handcrafted wood — the pieces carefully fit together, one by one until the track is long enough to move. That’s the other thing: It can’t just look right, it has to move correctly, too. There’s no finish except for a clear urethane varnish, every color change represents a different type of wood. His creations of trucks, motorcycles, trains, sport utility vehicles, cranes, fire engines, backhoes, scissor lifts and padlocks are less toys and more works of art. In fact, many of his pieces have been displayed at local businesses. Two shelves of intricate woodworking projects sit on a shelf in his garage. “That represents 20 years of work,” Orr said. What at first sounds like hyperbole is really a testament to steady but tenacious work, done most days two to three hours at a time. Orr shrugs at guessing how long any particular project takes, or how many hours he’s spent during the years. He knows most of the time, he’s into a project for two months, three if it’s really long. You might expect that a man whose work resembles the finest from the North Pole might have a workshop worthy of Old Saint Nick.
Top: Woodworker Bob Orr enjoys talking about his creations. Bottom: Orr works for several hours each day, creating wooden replicas. Opposite Page: A ferris wheel, built to scale, Orr made from scratch. Orr’s workshop is tucked neatly to the side of his two-car garage. “Most people are really disappointed looking at this shop,” Orr said. There are a few clamps, a tool box, but little that would hint at a master craftsman. There’s an antique band saw that he bought at a garage sale for $40. Next to it, a drill press; next to that, a sander. “Ninety-eight percent of the work is done by those machines,” Orr said. Sure, he has a router, scroll saw, a chop saw and other tools. “But they’re in the cabinet, hidden,” Orr said. Instead, he loves his old band saw, the workhorse of the shop with its old-style oil cups and sleeve bearings.
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“It’s nothing particularly fancy,” Orr said. But from these simple tools, Orr creates moving masterpieces that have tiny details down to the individual horns on the trucks or grips on handlebars. Most of his ideas come from detailed plans that look like they’re stolen from some construction site. Those pages of plans, stapled together, show all the different parts that need to be crafted, then carefully assembled in the right order. “You’d be surprised how much of a difference 1/16th of an inch can make,” Orr said. One-sixteenth of an inch — just four times the thickness of the average human fingernail. “What I am really good at is stealing and copying ideas from other people,” Orr said. Most of his projects came from plans, a large number from the magazine “Toys and Joys” published especially for woodworking hobbyists looking for a challenge. Many of the plans come with parts already pre-made. Orr has only bought plans, though, leaving every small part for him to build and assemble. As much as he laughs about being a great rip-off artist, that’s only mostly true. He’s designed several original, impressive pieces, including a ferris wheel that’s three feet in diameter, a Honda ATV and his scissor lift that is completely functional, moving up and down. You can imagine what folks must have thought as the now 80-year-old went to photograph and measure the lift. He made notes, paid close attention to the details, counting the number of criss-crossing scissor joints, taking pictures of small details, observing how it works so he could make his to function the same way. He did the same with the Honda ATV, taking many pictures so he could replicate the details in wood. “I got to know the Honda salesman pretty good,” he said. Orr might have been a chemical engineer by profession, but he was a woodworker by birth.
Top: A wooden replica of a crane sits in front of toy-lined shelves in Bob Orr’s workshop. None of the toys he makes have been stained, rather all the different colors are created by using different wood. Middle: A semi tractortrailer is part of the wooden toy collection Bob Orr has created. Bottom: Though his creations are technically classified as “toys,” Orr doesn’t make them to be played with, rather as something to be admired.
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Woodworker Bob Orr shows off a working man lift he built.
His father, “Blackie,” worked the railyards in Billings and he could put together and figure out anything. Blackie bought a metal lathe in 1947 and fashioned many things from it. Little did Orr know that same small shop area in his childhood basement would model his own workshop — a modest space that could create just about anything. It wasn’t until his retirement that Orr picked up woodworking, in addition to his other hobbies. He quickly learned the need to work with different woods. One of the first complex projects he crafted was a backhoe with fully working parts, including pivoting joints, buckets and wheels. “But it just didn’t show,” Orr said. He had made all of it out of the same wood. It needed something different — something to make it stand out. He needed contrast. That’s when he started trying different woods: oak, maple and cedar. Woodworking started with a simple toy car — cartoonish now when put up next to Orr’s lifelike replicas. Around the same time, he noticed an article in The Billings Gazette which featured a longtime Laurel woodworker, Ray Schwartzkopf. Schwartzkopf ’s cars and trains were an inspiration to Orr, so he tracked down the former railroad worker on the southside of Laurel. He approached the modest house which Schwartzkopf had built himself, room by room. Schwartzkopf ’s workshop was located inside a single-car garage. Orr builds all the parts, even the tiny gear-shifting knobs and steering wheels “It was kind of disappointing, too. I seem to recall even the garage floor like on this World War II replica. “You’d be surprised how much of a difference 1/16th of an inch makes,” Orr said. was dirt,” Orr said.
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That same garage would later be featured in the movie “Nebraska.” Schwartzkopf taught Orr about patterns and that woodworking didn’t require a bunch of tools, it demanded patience. And so Orr practices patience and woodworking most every morning — almost always it’s morning work. He wanders out into the garage, working piece by piece, all by hand. “I preach that everybody must have a hobby,” Orr said. “If you retire, and come home and try to boss your wife around, it’s just not going to work.” He loves his workshop, designing and building with wood. “She likes it that I am not pestering her,” Orr said. “I call it my workshop; Wooden toys line the she calls it my toy room.” shelves in woodworker His toy room... er, workshop has Bob Orr’s Billings home. pictures, a clock, a few sticky notes and a newspaper article of him in a SPAM carving contest with a handwritten message: “What the hell is wrong with you?” Besides the wood-worked pieces, there’s a noticeable lack of wood of any sort in the shop. “I work off scraps,” Orr said. “I don’t buy the $20 piece of wood, I am pretty resourceful and buy the scraps for a couple of bucks.” You’d hardly know he worked with wood from his bench. “Dust is my enemy,” Orr said. Spoken like a chemical engineer whose woodworking area is not so unlike a clean, orderly lab. Some days he spends more time Left: A clamp customized with a golf ball is attached to the band saw in woodworker Bob Orr’s shop. Right: Ray Schwartzkopf of Laurel built remarkable small-scale trains, construction equipment, cars and even a golf cart—out of than others, depending on the weather. wood. He helped get Bob Orr interested in woodworking. Schwartzkopf died in 2011, but was featured in The Billings Or fishing. Or golfing. He estimates he Gazette for his woodworking skills in 2005. G AZETTE STAFF spends two to three hours a day, every day, except Sunday when football deHe insists that woodworking is just a hobby, a distinction that’s as immands his attention. “I get more done in the winter,” Orr said. “It gets pretty hot in here portant to him as the difference between oak and maple. “This is a hobby, not a business,” Orr said. during the summer.” He once gave away a bus for a charity auction. It netted $400. OtherBut woodworking is just one of the hobbies that this Montana State University graduate loves. His others include water skiing, golfing, wise, he keeps many of his pieces. “I get a lot of thrill from showing these off. I love it,” Orr said. “And as fishing, magic and math puzzles, which he practices for around an hour you can tell, I’m very modest about that.” a day. He laughs deeply and it’s infectious. The woodworked trucks, trains and creations aren’t toys. They aren’t for Kris Kringle truly has nothing on Bob Orr. sale. They aren’t for the grandkids necessarily — the oldest of whom is 32.
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Billings Memories II: The 1940s, 1950s and 1960s
Get this year’s most unique gift while you can! Due to the overwhelming popularity of “Billings Memories: The Early Years,” The Billings Gazette is proud to partner with the Western Heritage Center, Rocky Mountain College, Montana State University Billings, Billings Public Library and our readers on a new hardcover pictorial history book, “Billings Memories II: The 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.” This heirloom-quality coffee-table book offers a glimpse of Billings from 1940-1969 with a brief reprise of the early years through stunning and historic photos. Get your commemorative book now for only $44.95 (plus shipping) while supplies last. Pick up your copy at The Billings Gazette or order online today!
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From left, Callie Steffan, Kathie Hagen, her husband Reid, Bernie Hagen-Steffan and Megan Hagen sit around a portrait of Bill Hagen dressed as Santa in the residence of Reid and Kathie Hagen.
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Bill Hagen, Billings’
BY MIKE FERGUSON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRONTË WITTPENN
ernie Hagen-Steffan fondly remembers the very deliberate way her grandfather, Bill Hagen, transformed himself into one of Billings’ bestloved and best-known Santa Clauses. “He was very particular about the order that everything went on,” she said of the velvet costume, which her grandfather obtained from an out-of-state theatrical supply company. “He had a tiny tummy, but he had this special shirt made, and we’d shove a pillow up it and tie it off, a little like the undershirt Clarence wore in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Then he’d hoist his pants up and get those tied down. “He’d sit down and pull up his English riding boots. Finally he’d put on his wig and beard — made from human hair — and he wouldn’t put on his jacket until the very last. I’d brush the lint off his velvet suit, he’d put his sleigh bells around his shoulders, and he’d make his appearance. “Even into his 70s he had this bounce to his step. He literally became Santa. He’d walk into a party and people would have a big chair for him. They’d hand him a gift with their child’s name on it, and he’d ask
them, ‘What do you think this is?’ What do you want me to bring you on the 24th?’ They could touch his hair and his suit, and it was real. It was kind of magical.” Hagen, who died in March 1985, regularly made up to 40 appearances around town each Christmas season, his family said, and up to 15 on Santa’s big night, Dec. 24. The venues typically included private parties, hospitals, schools, nursing homes and churches. “People would just leave a big bag of gifts on their porch and he would grab it and take the gifts inside,” recalled Hagen’s son, Reid. “He never promised anyone a gift. He would say sometimes, ‘Santa doesn’t have enough of these to go around, so you might get something else.’ That way, if they wanted a train set and got an erector set instead, they were never disappointed.” Reid Hagen said he remembers his father beginning his storied Santa career “when I was 7 or 8” and he lived during the waning years of the Great Depression with his father and mother, Edie, in Aberdeen, S.D. “He’d put sleigh bells on his horse. He made a toboggan and it had sleigh bells
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Above: Bill Hagen’s granddaughters, Megan, left, and Callie, hold two plaques given to Bill. The plaques celebrate Bill’s years of service as a beloved Santa Claus. Right: A plaque awarded to Bill Hagen rests in the residence of Kathie Hagen. The plaque was given to Hagen by the Montana Center for Handicapped Children.
Above: Bernie Hagen-Steffan explains how her grandfather, Bill Hagen, carefully put on his Santa suit. Right: The original sleigh bells of Bill Hagen’s Santa suit are held by Bernie Hagen-Steffan in the residence of Reid and Kathie Hagen. too,” he recalled. “For my birthday party (Reid Hagen was born Dec. 12), we would get on the toboggan and parade up and down the streets of town.” Bill Hagen “always matched whatever money I’d saved” so that young Reid could complete his Christmas gift list using the dimes he’d receive for his birthday. “I’d go down to the Five and Dime and buy probably 30 gifts for people for under five dollars.” As Santa, Bill’s easy, outgoing approach and the joy he derived from bringing joy to others left a lasting mark on his descendants — maybe none more so than Hagen-Steffan, who admitted she owns “a Christmas sweater, turtleneck, pair of socks and earrings for every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
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Her daughter Megan, 26, said she delights in the Christmas traditions her forebears have handed down. “I start listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween,” she said. Among her mother’s more creative and anticipated Christmas traditions: Psychotic Cookie Night. “Mom can crank out dozens of sugar cookies at a time, maybe 20 dozen in an evening,” Megan explained. “As they cool, our friends frost them and decorate them. She’d do candies too. It’s a day of baking followed by a night of watching Christmas movies. “I love Christmas,” she said, “but my boyfriend hates it.” As the people who helped found the Billings Saddle Club, the Hagens “always had a fabulous holiday party there every year,” Hagen-Steffan said. “They had a talent show, where I began singing Christmas carols at age 6. I was a pretty fair singer.” After hearing her sing, her grandfather would disappear, “and I’d be sad because every year he’d miss Santa’s appearance,” she said with a laugh. “He never got to see me sit on Santa’s lap, and never heard the laundry list of what I needed for Christmas.”
While the rest of Billings clearly enjoyed Hagen’s very public life — in 1963, he lost a mayoral election to Willard Fraser — his granddaughter cherished his quiet side. “No matter what we were doing — attending a horse auction or Santa Clausing — no matter where they were, that’s where I wanted to be,” Hagen-Steffan said. “I was content to spend the night at their home on Rockrim Lane, because they had an incredible view. Grandmother and I would sit on the porch and rock together in the love seat, and he had his rocker. We would just sit and talk. “We don’t take the time to do that anymore. It was just so peaceful and wonderful. Together they A photo of Bill Hagen and his wife, Edie, is held by their adopted son, Reid. were a team who brought so much joy.”
“He’d sit down and pull up his English riding boots. Finally he’d put on his wig and beard — made from human hair — and he wouldn’t put on his jacket until the very last. I’d brush the lint off his velvet suit, he’d put his sleigh bells around his shoulders, and he’d make his appearance.” ~ Bernie Hagen-Steffan
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CIPOLLINO GRIGIO 1882K-35
CounterTops & Memories
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MOSTNG I R I P I NS PEOPLE
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BY TARA CADY & DARRELL EHRLICK Every year, the staff of Magic picks a group of outstanding individuals who are named “most inspiring people.” It’s a thrill to ﬁnd these stories because many of these people are inspiring precisely because they don’t seek the spotlight or crave attention. They simply let their drive and goodness speak for them. This year’s group is no different. And, we’re happy to share those stories because they’ve inspired us. They’ve helped make this community better, stronger and richer. Here are our staff’s picks for Most Inspiring People of 2016.
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MOST G INSPIRIN PEOPLE ▲
WHEELING IN DETERMINATION BY TARA CADY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY LARRY MAYER
John Coleman “Cole” Barnes. Cole is finishing up his last year at Billings Senior High. When not immersed in class, he’s delivering mail “freaky fast” to all of the teachers in his wheelchair and participating in student council.
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In the past, he’s competed in the Special Olympics and fundraised for his peers with disabilities. It was probably him at the door trying to sell you raffle tickets. And if you’re one of the lucky ones in his senior class, you likely caught a glimpse of him rolling into prom with his date on his lap. Cole has received some news coverage. Proactive stories of him and his father advocating for student disability rights, articles about him and his mother fundraising for at-home accommodations. And then the reactive headlines, the passing of Cole’s sister Ivy in 2013 and mother Jamie in 2015. But it isn’t the challenges he’s faced, but the positive attitude he’s kept that makes Cole one of the “Most Inspiring People of 2016.” Cole was born defying the odds. “He was never expected to leave the hospital, talk, feed himself,” said Cole’s father Clayton Barnes, whom Cole affectionately calls “Old Goat.” After a healthy pregnancy, but difficult delivery, Cole was born with cerebral palsy and scoliosis, conditions requiring multiple surgeries, ample support and a lot of faith. Now, at age 18, Cole’s a typical teenager distracted by girls and never wants high school to end. He’s traveled to more places than most people experience in their lifetime. St. Kits, Tampa, Orlando, both sides of Mexico. And he’s a smart-aleck (cue one of Cole’s one-liners: “Imagine that”). He also has incredible DNA from both sides of the family. Cole’s mom Jamie was the first female in her family to graduate high school, the first to attend college. Both she and Clayton grew up modestly, both having lost a parent in their youth. For them, education was the way to get ahead. Jamie became one of McKinley Elementary’s beloved teachers, and Clayton is a respected financial advisor at Edward Jones in Billings.
Cole Barnes is a member of the Senior High Student Council. Despite their challenges, they broke all of the other kids like Cole. It’s Cole’s role to decide who receives help, molds. Now Cole is wheeling in their footsteps. “Quitting isn’t in his DNA,” said Clayton. and what type of help. Typically he gives the gift of an iPad. “He’s building on a long history of people who “I really hate doing Facebook at the computbroke the mold.” er,” said Cole. “I like doing Facebook from the Cole’s laugh is infectious. It’s often preceded iPad.” Cole figured given his own experience that by one of his many stories, like the time he and others would appreciate the tablet too. his mom got on the wrong plane. And despite Cole’s own needs, his fundraisOr the time he fell and hit his head, requiring emergency care while on vacation in the Carib- ing for others doesn’t end there. “I love going door-to-door,” he said. “Every bean after he got distracted by the “beach ladies.” “I was showing (off) and I decided to do a flip year I do an event, selling raffle tickets.” His friend knocks on the door, Cole talks, in a power chair and broke my head right open,” and his friend interprets. Cole said. “I got six stitches.” Cole raises money for the Special Olympics, What others might consider a crisis was actually a pretty smooth move for the then something he’s been part of since around age 13, participating in anything from softball, cones 14-year-old. Cole’s comedic charm afforded him an “en- and running, to basketball, baseball and hockey tourage of girls” catering to his every beck and – all with modified equipment. call for the remainder of that vacation. Cole turns 19 in March, and he’ll be relucIt’s embellished stories like these that make tantly graduating two months later. Clayton think Cole would do great in sales. The ambitious story-teller has an interest in And with graduation quickly approaching, it’s difficult not to think about what the future real estate, and can do algebra in his head. He’s holds except for Cole himself, who’d gladly stay very good at math and can run a computer very well, but he learns differently than others. While at Senior. “I love Jana too much,” said Cole of his long- college may or may not be in the cards, Cole’s time aid, Jana Toavs, who’s been there for him track-record for perseverance ensures an adulthood of continually defying the odds. since kindergarten. “Don’t say that.” And as he gets older, Cole faces more surgerNot everyone has a community of support ies, but he’s not scared in the least. “If you’ve been poked and prodded (as like Cole. “He’s been lucky,” said Clayton. “We’ve been much) as I have, you get used to it,” he said. Cole undoubtedly carries his mother’s able to advocate for him very well.” When Cole and Jamie initiated Project Cole strength. “She was incredibly stubborn, incredibly at McKinley to raise $10,000 for wheelchair accessibility within their home, they had money driven,” Clayton said. And Cole identifies with that. left-over. A combined surplus of funds and sup“Like me,” he added. port kept the mission going, raising money for
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BY TARA CADY
Where did all of these fire-spinning, body-painted aerialists come from? The people were already here, but they were waiting for someone to give them a voice and a platform.
In 2016, downtown Billings has celebrated each equinox and solstice with fire-spinning, acrobatics and captivating visual art. Without April Dawn, owner of Inspire Events, this up-and-coming seasonal tradition wouldn’t have been possible. Because of her vision for a more creatively integrated community, Dawn has been nominated as one of the “Most Inspiring People of 2016.” Growing up in a small town outside of Calgary, Dawn was quick to start school clubs and bring people together. “I was always that kid in school trying to get others involved,” she said. Upon adulthood, Dawn moved to the city and discovered a culture she could relate to, one that was spiritual and fun. She became a tattoo artist and an event planner, inspired to celebrate life through art and community. Coming to Billings wasn’t planned. In fact, the move was hard and forced. Dawn had to rely on others to get by, and it was the help she received, plus her attitude to make the most of it, that encouraged her to give back. During her first week in Montana, Dawn met her best friend. The two had a mutual interest in meditation, and created the Conscious Collective meditation group. As that group grew and her tattoo career in Montana took off, Dawn met like-minded people who were looking for a way to express themselves
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creatively. She decided that it was up to her to introduce Billings to something it’d never seen before. “I was going to make this place the best it was going to be,” she said. “People were spread out and they needed to be brought together.” And so the seasonal celebrations were born. Uniquinox Bloom, Summer Soulstice, Uniquinox Elemental and Celestial Soulstice. These events – all of which have come and gone aside from Celestial Soulstice happening Dec. 17 – mark the changing of the seasons. The Billings community doesn’t want them to end in December. “As soon as you give someone a platform, then they’re inspired to grow and share that growth,” she said. “We’ve (brought in) people from California, Oregon, all over Montana.” The events, which have been hosted at Limber Tree Yoga Studio and the Billings Depot, have spurred some curiosity within the community. “City council was shocked at the ask for fire-spinning,” she said. Through performance art, 3D paintings, sculpture, fractal dimensions – anything that you can take a piece of and it represents the whole – as well as body painting, Dawn has enlightened many to what could be. It’s like opening a door, she said. “If you like it, you can find out more on your own,” explained Dawn. “I’ve given an example of how it can be done and lit the fire, so to speak.” Energy. Fractal dimensions. Fire spinning. It all seems far-out and questionable to anyone accustomed to life in Montana, but Dawn insists there’s a reason for it. “We spend so much energy in our society,” she explained. “Our life is built around these holidays.” Although she isn’t planning on hosting anymore herself, Dawn hopes the community will take the baton. “If they want to continue expanding, the trail has been blazed,” she said.
April Dawn performing at Uniquinox Elemental on Friday, September 23, 2016. COURTESY OF APRIL DAWNâ€Œ
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A ONE-MAN CAUSE FOR PURPLE HEART RECIPIENTS
BY DARRELL EHRLICK | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HANNAH POTES
More than 15 years ago, veteran and Purple Heart recipient Jerry LaFountain had an idea to create a Purple Heart Memorial at the county courthouse to memorialize all those veterans from Yellowstone County who received the medal for being wounded or killed in action.
When the black granite memorial was dedicated in 2001, he could have considered his work done. But since its dedication, LaFountain has worked to track down other names, or add new recipients to the wall. There are now nearly 6,000 names on that wall. He’s a tireless fund-raiser and promoter. Recently, The Purple Heart group has added one other black granite panel. In fact, the group has been so good at collecting names, a second row must be added. The granite and the engraving match the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington, D.C. The new panel will hold approximately another 700 names, good enough for five — maybe 10 years. He’s beginning to transition to the next generation of leaders for the project; a lifetime of living with battle wounds from Vietnam have finally started to catch up with the man who at times moved so quickly you’d swear he could really be in two places at once. For his efforts at helping to preserve the legacy of our nation’s veterans on a local level, LaFountain has been named as one of 2016’s “Most Inspiring People.” His beginning of public service started in an unlikely place — the battlefields of Vietnam. He was one of three LaFountain brothers to serve in that war. In a fierce battle in Dak To, he and his brother were side-by-side fighting. He believed he may not live. He prayed hard to survive. He still remembers that prayer. “If I make it home, I’ll do something good for someone every day of my life without any expectation of something in return. And I have kept that
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promise to this day, and will until the day I die,” LaFountain said. When he returned, he finished his education, including going to law school. When he first began collecting names for the Purple Heart wall in Montana, he toured the state, trekking more than 7,000 miles in an effort to create more awareness for this special group of veterans. “I came up with the idea for the Purple Heart memorials because there were a lot of World War II guys — people that I looked up to and admired. Well, they were dying,” LaFountain recalls. “You probably wouldn’t recognize their names because they came back and went about their business. But, they struggled. When five or six of them died, I just knew I had to do something.” He said it wasn’t just that they served, but that they were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice and had been wounded, changed in some way forever because of their service.
In this photo from 2015, Jerry LaFountain stands at the Purple Heart Memorial on the Yellowstone County Courthouse Lawn.
“THOSE ARE PEOPLE THAT SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN.”
graved in the order in which they were received. New names will be added in the same way. “The idea is that all the names up there are equals,” LaFountain said. A computer kiosk in the county courthouse lobby helps identify the names on the panel. Folks can see the names there without having to leave the comfort of the lobby, or can get a location without spending hours reading through — and possibly missing — a name. “Even if I did not have a Purple Heart, “Those are people that should not be forgotI would have done this,” LaFountain said. ten,” LaFountain said. The names on the wall aren’t in alphabetical “It’s just my personality. They need to be reorder, nor are they chronological. They were en- membered.”
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CHAMPIONING THE CITY ▲
MOST G INSPIRIN PEOPLE
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BY TARA CADY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY CASEY PAGE
S earch Lisa Harmon on the Billings Gazette website and 10 pages appear in the results. Harmon arrived in Billings in 1993, bringing her family and cookies-for-cancer business with her. Having already lived in Norfolk, Va., Charleston, S.C., and San Diego, Calif., as the daughter of a Navy man, she was enchanted by the city life and its diversity.
Billings was equally awe-inspiring, and Harmon, with fresh eyes, saw much potential. For her efforts to beautify, develop and change downtown, Harmon has been named one of the “Most Inspiring People of 2016.” “In everything I do there’s an element of service,” Harmon explained. “No matter what I’m doing, how can I answer the call to serve something bigger?” Harmon’s humanitarian drive started when she was 7, and since then, she’s been answering that “call.” When Harmon’s mom had cancer, she started a cookie business. When she relocated it to Billings, it was first located on Broadwater Avenue, but soon she felt the need to venture downtown to Montana Avenue. At some point, it was time to close shop, but her entrepreneur-
“It’s a cross-pollination kind of thing. You feed off each other,” said Harmon. Harmon hopes people enjoy what’s being done for downtown, and has no plans of stopping. “People can get really frustrated about their city,” she said. “The people that come here can be a part of that (change). That’s exciting.” Future goals include working with tribal leaders and promoting downtown economic development. Without her faith and down time, it wouldn’t be possible. “People probably don’t know how my faith inspires me,” she said. “It feeds my hope.” Harmon’s recently become certified in teaching yoga through the Limber Tree Yoga Studio and hopes to use her yoga practice to help people who’ve experienced trauma. “That’s something I can see myself doing in retirement,” said Harmon. She’s thought about secession planning, but there’s still so much to accomplish before she passes the baton. “What calls me to work is the beauty and the diversity,” she said. “I want to be the vehicle for rehabilitation.” DBA initiatives like decorated utility boxes, Skypoint, cigarette butt receptacles, holiday decorations, safety programs and events like Alive After 5, the Strawberry Festival and Harvestfest all have contributed to a better downtown experience. “It’s the experience that you have that you What keeps Harmon inspired to inspire will remember,” she said. “That makes you fall in love with your city.” others is the Billings community.
ial instinct did not sway. “It’s so funny that when you have something that runs through your veins, you always come back to your calling,” she said. “It’s in your DNA.” By 2005, Harmon became the executive director of the Downtown Billings Alliance, a title she continues to hold. “When I got the job, my job was to make downtown a vibrant place,” she said. “I was named the first chair of the Mayor’s Committee on Homelessness and that defined by job to serve.” In 2007, Harmon created the Spare Change for Real Change fundraising initiative, an alternative to handing out cash to beggars. The project has raised more than $75,000. “When you give, you get back,” she said. “The community is a reflection of who we are.” It’s that philosophy that brought the Motivated Addiction Alternative program, the Community Innovations Summit and the Business Improvement District street team to life. Harmon alleviates homelessness as part of her role as executive director. Through the various DBA programs, she also supports small businesses and beautifies the downtown district with the help of her fellow DBA employees and downtown community, a team of support equating to roughly 500 property owners and 200 DBA members. “That’s a lot of stimuli,” she said.
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BY DARRELL EHRLICK | PHOTOGRAPHY BY LARRY MAYER
Ed Saunders has spent thousands of hours advocating for a national cemetery and tirelessly researching lives of veterans whose stories may otherwise be lost to time. The irony, of course, is that in his effort to preserve stories of servicemen and -women who would otherwise be lost, his story takes a backseat.
But, it’s his work, his advocacy and his passion for veterans and paying tribute to their sacrifice of service that makes him one of the “Most Inspiring People of 2016.” Saunders is a career Army veteran who saw combat service in the Gulf War. He was part of the effort to get a national veterans cemetery — the Yellowstone National Cemetery — installed in Laurel. He’s written a new book about it, “Sentinels: Yellowstone National Cemetery, from Prairie to Hallowed Ground.” And, he’s been combing through documents and archives, playing a historical detective, in order to put up a memorial in 2017 to the female veterans of Yellowstone County who served in World War I. 2017 marks 100 years since America entered the war. “The greatest tragedy befalling an American serviceman or servicewoman in uniform is not that they may be killed-in-action; that is the greatest sacrifice,” Saunders said. “The greatest tragedy is they may be forgotten: forgotten in life and forgotten in death by the very same nation and people whose constitution, freedoms and way of life the U.S. military swore an oath to defend. I suppose that is why I work to find forgotten Montana veterans—mostly women veterans now—and ensure they are not forgotten.” His perspective of service and not forgetting was forged from his service in a combat role. “After a career in the U.S. (regular) Army with combat service in the Gulf War, you get an entirely new perspective on how blessed, wonderful and profound that freedom truly is,” Saunders said. He remembers being in a firefight not far from the border of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. During a lull, one of his fellow soldiers pulled out a copy of
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book on the classics. “I worked with a remarkable bunch... and we had been facing enemy fire and he pulls out that book,” Saunders said. “Either he is nuts or he had things in a perspective that’s hard to articulate.” That’s part of what drives Saunders to keep the memories of veterans’ lives alive — because so many of them are remarkable individuals who served and then went back to leading lives of unheralded heroes. Kind of like the veteran whom he met walking Omaha Beach, just a day or two before the 40th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. Saunders was there as part of the Army’s bomb destruction unit, looking for any unexploded devices, just before the arrival of President Ronald Reagan. He wanted to walk the entire beach and started walking. He noticed a man in the distance. He got closer and closer to the man who would stop occasionally and look in different directions. Pretty soon, Saunders caught up to him. “Do you know where Fox Red Beach is?” the man asked Saunders. “No, sir. I’m afraid I don’t,” Saunders replied. The man started to cry. “I didn’t know what to do,” Saunders said. “I put my arm around his shoulder and I just said, ‘How about you and I walk it together?” The man agreed. And so they walked together. When they approached the path that led up the bluff to the cemetery, Saunders let the man lead. Atop the bluff was a cemetery filled with rows and rows of white crosses. Saunders had his camera and took a photograph of the veteran, making his away to the top of the hill. It’s a moment he cannot forget — the importance of remembering and honoring those lives. Not so long ago, Saunders stood at the Yellowstone National Cemetery on what used to be windswept prairie land above Laurel. As it did, the flags popped in the wind, slightly muted by the wind’s roar. “Hearing the flags pop reminded me of gunfire. To some people, those flags are just colored pieces of cloth,” Saunders said. “But to me, it’s an embodiment of an ideal and the only thing standing between tyranny and us is that piece of cloth.”
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GIVING STUDENTS A VOICE
BY TARA CADY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HANNAH POTES
Disadvantaged students struggling to graduate can credit Kelly Buck for their eventual diplomas. At least those who were in the TRiO program.
But Buck will tell you it’s not graduating that she considers a success in the students she’s worked with, though through her leadership, the TRiO program has the highest graduation rate — 47 percent — of all MSUB programs. One bachelor’s and master’s degree later, Buck was called back to serve by Monica Powers, the former TRiO director who encouraged her to tutor in the beginning. Despite her dreams of having a ranch where she could help families at risk, Buck chose to return to MSUB as its
new TRiO director. For her dedication to student success, Buck has been named one of the “Most Inspiring People of 2016.” TRiO services include time management, study skills and test-taking strategies. For first-generation students, those skills are not passed down from other family members. TRiO helps bridge the gap. “First-generation students don’t have support at home,” Buck said. “Very often we weren’t told (college is) even possible,” she said. It’s Buck’s desire to see students fulfill whatever goal or dream they have, regardless of whether graduation is in the cards. “I love being able to watch people find their potential,” said Buck. The TRiO program is slated to serve 258 students each year, but on a typical year that number is exceeded, she said. “Each individual’s success is unique into themselves. No one person is more important than the next,” Buck said. “It’s up to them to define that goal. It’s not up to me.” Buck, who will tell you she was “probably the biggest mouse in the corner” and “really, really quiet and shy” growing up, has blossomed into her role as director. Before running the show as the director of the MSUB Student Support Services TRiO program, Buck was an MSUB student herself, navigating the halls, trying to figure out what her major was going to be and how to become a college graduate. It all came to be by chance. Buck didn’t plan on attending MSUB, majoring in human services, earning a graduate degree from the University of Washington or her eventual director position. It was two car accidents, three children and a referral to vocational rehab that landed Buck at MSUB. A low-income student living with disability, Buck got connected with the TRiO program early, and was quickly encouraged to help others through tutoring, and then peer mentoring. “It’s easy to fight for someone else,” she said. “I’ve gained confidence over the years.” “I can be whoever I choose to be” and “I have the power of my life” are some of the positive self-talk she instills in students, as well as her own children. Buck’s three kids have followed in her footsteps, all having attended or are still enrolled at MSUB. “Coming to college is probably one of the greatest events in the world,” she said. “(After attending college) it becomes the expectation that (your) children are going to get an education. To me, that’s exciting.” Buck is working to remodel what her program does on a broader scale. “There is a greater need across campus,” she said. “We’re working on partnering with other departments, identifying what services are replicable with little to no funding.” One of those services, peer mentoring, is easily replicable and boosts self-esteem in students who may not have had encouragement in their pasts. Buck tells the students to ask themselves: “How much of this baggage do I need to drop off here?” “College provides an opportunity to look at where we come from in a different way,” she said. It’s that newfound self-knowledge that will help determine where each student will go next. “You can be whoever you choose to be as long as you’re putting forth the effort,” said Buck. “It doesn’t matter where we come from.”
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MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 105
MOST G INSPIRIN PEOPLE ▲
DR. ERIC ARZUBI:
AT THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
BY TARA CADY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY CASEY PAGE
D r. Eric Arzubi experienced a premature mid-life crisis early in his career. At 29, he wasn’t a doctor, but a Morgan Stanley bond trader whose early travel experiences – including a reporting job as Bloomberg News’ first Latin American correspondent — brought him great success buying and selling international currencies on Wall Street. The problem was Arzubi knew it was a career he couldn’t look back on in his later years and feel like he’d really lived or influenced people.
It was his pediatrician that he looked up to, and Arzubi wanted to emulate those traits. So he enrolled at Yale Medical School, and set out to be a doctor. “I took the plunge and didn’t look back,” he said. Pre-med, medical school, a residency and a fellowship later, Arzubi was still in Connecticut as a fresh-out-of-college child and adolescent psychiatrist. Having already been the co-chair for public policy at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Connecticut and a fellow at Yale’s Child Study Center, it seemed appropriate for Arzubi to stay in the state in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook mass shooting. But the universe had other plans for Arzubi. One email from Billings Clinic and a trip to Montana — not complete without a stop at Chico Hot Springs — later, Arzubi decided Billings would be the place he would start his career, raise his family, and maybe even retire.
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For his work changing Montana’s mental health landscape since his arrival in 2013, Arzubi has been named one of the “Most Inspiring People of 2016.” In his 2015 TEDxMSUBillings talk Arzubi reveals he no idea how great the need was in Montana for mental health care until he got here. Arzubi wasn’t immediately smitten with Billings, but was “impressed by the organization’s passion to put patients first.” Billings Clinic staff ’s passion harmonized with Arzubi’s graduating class’ oath to go above and beyond the scope of a doctor, and within the first three years of his career, he has made an incredible impact. He’s introduced a health clinic to Orchard Elementary, created tele-psychiatry services in the emergency room and spearheaded Project ECHO, a transitional service linking offenders to healthcare. He’s joined the ChildWise Institute and National School Based Health Alliance’s board of directors. He’s working to create a psychiatry residency program at Billings Clinic, and is the president-elect for the Big Sky Regional Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. And he speaks regularly at mental health-related events like the Montana Conference on Mental Illness and the NAMI-Billings gala. He does it all while maintaining his psychiatrist role at Billings Clinic and leading its psychiatry department. During his pre-med days in Connecticut, Arzubi and his wife started a tutoring business
“THERE’S THIS ENTREPRENEURIAL SIDE OF ME THAT TRANSLATES INTO MEDICINE. NOT IN TERMS OF MAKING MONEY, BUT CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR BETTER PATIENT CARE,” called Raging Knowledge in Westport. It was then that he realized he “really enjoyed spending time with kids.” What initially began as math and science tutoring transformed into working with kids with disabilities after receiving many requests. “My wife Ella steered me away from tutoring math and science,” he said. Working with kids influenced his decision to become a child and adolescent psychiatrist. “Because of my experience tutoring at the intersection of education and behavior, I discovered the importance of school-based mental health,” he said. Helping the Yale Child Studies Center open its school-based mental health center during his fellowship and getting the two gubernatorial candidates in Connecticut to talk about child mental health care were just the beginning to a career in mental health advocacy and care. “There’s this entrepreneurial side of me that translates into medicine. Not in terms of making money, but creating opportunities for better
patient care,” he said. Three years into his career and Arzubi has earned many accolades, including the Billings Clinic’s first-ever Outstanding Physician Award and the 2016 NAMI Montana Hero award. “The awards are flattering and keep me energized to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I feel funny with some of these awards because I’m still planting seeds right now.” What he means is that he’s not introducing anything new – just new to Montana. He’s “adopting other people’s really good ideas and bringing people together.” “I still have a lot to work on,” he said. “It’ll take five to 10 years to see the impact.” Arzubi is driven to make the best-in-nation services available to all Montanans. “My hope is that in 2025 we can say we have among the lowest suicide rates in the country.” It’s clear Arzubi isn’t going anywhere, except home to his family every night for dinner – a testament to what all he’s capable of in a day.
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 107
SEEN SCENE AT THE
Downtown Billings 1] Katie Rausch 2] Maggie Lees, Carlin Bear Don’t Walk & Emily Kennedy-Guerra
Yellowstone Art Museum 3] Brenna Lacy, Meliah Bell & Ariel Grosﬁeld 4] Kayla Erickson, Jasmine & Joanne Slade 5] Kris Doely & Steph Danielson
Music of the Masters
Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale 6] Brian Ganz & Gary Oakland 7] Jim Gutenkauf, Brian Ganz & Lynn Marquardt 8] John Stewart & Diane Boyer Jerhoff
Auction of Arias
NOVA Center for the Performing Arts 9] Karla Stricker & Amy Logan 10] Justin Ward, Janie Sutton, Mary Kate Hotaling & Mandi Taylor 8
Photo Credits: Virginia Bryan/ ArtWalk Downtown Billings; Dixie Yelvington/Yellowstone Art Museum; Michelle Dawson/Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale; DeLaney Hardy/NOVA Center for the Performing Arts; Ursula Richter/St. Vincent Healthcare; Julie Whitworth/Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools; Brett Maas.
108 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
St. Vincent Healthcare 11] Kate Dringman, Amy Reger, Wendy Down, Dr. Lisa Ablen-Thompson & Anja Berube 12] Mayor Tom and First Lady Robin Hanel, Steve Loveless & Dennis Sulsern 13] Rod & Brittney Souza 14] Tiki McDaniel, Dr. Adam Delavan, Karlee Omsberg, Dr. Brian Christenson & Aubrey Arneson
Saturday Live 17
Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools 15] Brian Epley & Robbie Hurt 16] Quinn & Evangeline Curry
Boo at the Zoo
ZooMontana 17] Heather & Garyn Harrison 18] Rachel, Drew & Paetyn Brown 19] Jessica Brower, Marnie Emonds & Benjamin Brower, William & Vivian Hastings 20] Brooke Osgood & Maria Toccafondo 21] Douglas, Shannon, Emory & Owen Larson
Pack the Bowl in Pink
Rocky Mountain College 22] Thomas Vandel, Parker Rood, Tymber MacKenzie & Hunter Borner 23] Kathy Sorich & Sherry Essmannt 24] Jim Sparks, Cal Maas, Steve Sorich & Cavin Noddings
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 109
DECEMBER Exhibit is ongoing: Boundless Visions Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org Until December 17 Exhibit: Briskly Venture, Briskly Roam: The Life & Legend of Yellowstone Kelly Western Heritage Center ywhc.org Until December 17 Exhibit: In the Wind: Montana Motorcycle Memories Western Heritage Center ywhc.org
Until December 19 Exhibit: Echoes of Eastern Montana: Stories from an Open Country Western Heritage Center ywhc.org Until December 19 Exhibit: Who Owns the Yellowstone River? Western Heritage Center ywhc.org
Until December 30 Exhibit: Ephemerality: Works by Louis Habeck Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
Festival of Trees
Until December 30 Exhibit: Jill Brody: Hidden in Plain Sight Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org December 1 Merriment @ the Moss Moss Mansion mossmansion.com
Until December 30 Exhibit: Unleashed: Critters from the Permanent Collection Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
December 1-18 Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings Billings Studio Theatre billingsstudiotheatre.com December 1-3 Festival of Trees MetraPark Expo Center metrapark.com
The Best Place in Billings for
Historical Downtown Billings, Montana Avenue www.montanaavenue.com 110 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
o Hours: Mon-Sat 6am-10pm • Sun 9am-5pm 2501 Montana Avenue • Billings, MT www.moavcoffee.com
Newly Remodeled Still the best drinks in town 2403 Montana Ave. 259-0047
Fresh Seafood, Certified Angus Beef™ Specialties, Spirits Private Room Available 245-7477 • 2401 Montana Avenue
406.591.9535 2317 Montana Ave www.NOVAbillings.org
Fine Art • Custom Framing Cards & Gifts 2505 Montana Ave. • 252-0122 www.toucanarts.com
Illuminate this holiday season
Monthly Specials December Laser Special
$100 off all laser treatments greater than $650 $50 off all laser treatments less than $600 (IPL, CORE Laser, Sublative Laser)
Skincare & Cosmetic Special
25% off of all skincare and cosmetics
Chemical Peel Special
15% off all package treatments (Up to a $230 value!)
Juvederm Special $50 off treatment
Facial Plastic Surgery and Medical Spa Trust the complexities of your face to the expert, facial plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Wolpoe, the only physician in our region who is double-board certified in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
To schedule your new patient consultation with Dr. Wolpoe, please call Guinevere at (406) 657-4653 or visit billingsclinic.com/facialplastics
ZooLights ZooMontana December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 18-24 Take the family on a holiday light safari at ZooMontana. Cars, trucks and buses can drive through the zoo and enjoy a decorative light display while listening to festive holiday music. Open throughout most of December, the lights aren’t the only things to enjoy. Bring a child’s toy on Dec. 9 and receive an admission discount for supporting Toys for Tots. Check out Winter Wonderland on Dec. 16-17 with activities for kids, hot chocolate and cookies. Santa will make a special appearance for free pictures as well. Prices range from $10-20, and Zoo members get a $2 discount. Learn more at zoomontana.org. December 1-4 The Polar Express Billings Depot billingsdepot.org
December 3 Winterfair Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
December 2-3 ZooLights ZooMontana zoomontana.org
Venture Improv NOVA Center for the Performing Arts novabillings.org
December 8 Victorian Christmas Concert mossmansion.com
December 2 Winterfair and Holiday ArtWalk Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
The Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge Lake Elmo somt.org/plung
December 9-10 ZooLights ZooMontana zoomontana.org
Warren Miller’s 67th Film Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
Christmas with C.S. Lewis Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
Christmas Stroll & Holiday ArtWalk Downtown Billings downtownbillings.com
December 4 Messiah Festival Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
December 10 Docent 2nd Saturday: Art for Kids Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
Funky Bunch NOVA Center for the Performing Arts novabillings.org
December 7 Broadway Christmas Wonderland Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
112 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
December 8-10 All American NDN Shootout Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark metrapark.com
Billings Symphony presents Holiday Pops Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org Trunks & Treasures Tours Moss Mansion mossmansion.com Toys for Tots MetraPark Carnival Lot metrapark.com
December 16-17 Winter Wonderland & ZooLights ZooMontana zoomontana.org
Cowboy Christmas Concert Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
December 17 Chase Hawks Rodeo Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark metrapark.com
December 14 YAM Teens Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
December 18-23 ZooLights ZooMontana zoomontana.org
(HED) PE in concert Pub Station 1111presents.com
December 18 Book Signing by Neltje Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
December 15 High Noon Lecture Series: Holiday Greetings from the Western Heritage Center Western Heritage Center ywhc.org
December 20 The Ten Tenors Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
December 21-23; 29-30 Candlelight Tours Moss Mansion mossmansion.com
January 24 Soul Street Dance Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
December 30 ZOSO in concert Pub Station Ballroom 1111presents.com
January 28 Saturday Night Fever Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
FEBRUARY Jeff Dunham live Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark metrapark.com
December 31 Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org Zoo Year: A Noon New Year’s Eve Celebration ZooMontana zoomontana.org
JANUARY January 7 First Saturday $1 Day Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org January 8-9 New Shanghai Circus Acrobats Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org January 11 YAM Teens Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org January 13 The Ennis Sisters Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org January 14 Family Life Expo MetraPark Expo Center metrapark.com
Pinky and the Floyd Pub Station Ballroom 1111presents.com Docent 2nd Saturday: Art for Kids Yellowstone Art Museum artmusuem.org
January 19 Art Auction 49 Opening Reception Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org January 19-March 4 Exhibit: Art Auction 49 Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org January 21 Fractured Fairy Tales Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
February 1 Amy Grant Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org Iration in concert Pub Station Ballroom 1111presents.com February 3 Winter ArtWalk Downtown Billings artwalkbillings.com ArtWalk and Jam at the YAM Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org February 4 First Saturday $1 Day Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org Billings Symphony presents Northern Lights Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org February 7 Barefoot in the Park Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
January 21-22 Building & Remodeling Expo Montana Pavilion at MetraPark metrapark.com
Tribal Seeds in concert Pub Station Ballroom 1111presents.com
January 21-22 The Great Rockies Sport Show MetraPark Expo Center metrapark.com
February 8 YAM Teens Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
Art Auction 49 Yellowstone Art Museum | January 19-March 4 Art enthusiasts, creators and collectors come together during the annual art exhibition at the YAM. Beginning with an opening reception on January 19, visitors to the YAM can view exceptional works of art in its spacious galleries. The exhibition culminates in the annual art auction on March 4 – an event you won’t want to miss. Featuring a silent auction, live auction, “Quick Draw,” cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, you’ll enjoy every minute of this swanky gala while supporting the creative arts. Visit artmuseum.org for more information. February 10 1964 The Tribute Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
February 14 Valentine’s Free Day Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
February 11 Docent 2nd Saturday: Art for Kids Yellowstone Art Museum artmuseum.org
The Sleeping Beauty Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
OperaFest 2017 NOVA Center for the Performing Arts novabillings.org
February 17 The Irish Rovers Alberta Bair Theater albertabairtheater.org
MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I 113
WINTER WONDER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRET T FRENCH/GA ZET TE STAFF
T he way a crow Shook down on me The dust of snow From a hemlock tree Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued. ~ Robert Frost “Dust of Snow” 114 I DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017 I MAGIC CITY MAGAZINE
Long Live Cowboys. Long Live Cowgirls.
Long Live Indians.
...on Another Successful Y Year! BIG R WEST
BIG R hEIGhTS
BIG R EaST
BIG R ShERIdaN
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