My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Small town living at the Western Heritage Days Parade

2012/06/28by Donna Hull

Do you  include small town festivals and parades on your boomer travel itinerary? With the 4th of July just around the corner, they’re sure on my mind. And I’m lucky because in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana (where Alan and I now live fulltime), there’s practically a parade or community event every weekend. I thought you would enjoy scenes from last Saturday’s Western Heritage Days Parade in Stevensville, Montana. You might even learn a little Montana history along the way.

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Here come the Boy Scouts!

God Bless America. That was the song the Boy Scouts sang as they marched down Main Street in Stevensville. Wearing red shirts and carrying small American flags, they looked quite patriotic…and hot.

antique-truck-stevensville-montana-parade

Antique truck float

Antique cars are big in Western Montana. From roadsters to this old red farm truck, we share the highway with them almost every day. Alan and I are looking forward to Stars, Guitars and Cars on July 6 in Stevensville. We’ll probably recognize some of the owners because they meet on Wednesdays at Memories Cafe in Corvallis, where we like to go for breakfast.

parade-stevensville-montana-history

Celebrating the first settlement in Montana

Did you know that St. Mary’s Mission was the first settlement in Montana? At the request of the Salish people, Father Pierre Jean deSmet arrived with Fathers Gregory Mengarini and Nicholas Point to minister to the tribe. But it was Father Anthony Ravalli, a physician, pharmacist, surgeon, architect, artist and sculptor (Whew, that’s a lot of talent!), who developed the community. He also named a mountain lake after the one he left behind in Italy—Como.

miniature-horse-stevensville-montana-parade

A miniature horse struts his stuff

Ranching still exists in this part of the West. Alan and I enjoy watching the horses run free across acres of pasture. One day as we were enjoying breakfast at The Frontier Cafe on Highway 93, a real cowboy walked in the door wearing chaps, spurs on his boots and a big old cowboy hat. He was definitely the real deal.

fire-equipment-stevensville-montana-parade

Antique fire equipment is pulled down the street

This antique fire hose being pulled down Main Street is a reminder to be careful with campfires, because we have forest fires in this part of the world. Did you know that Western Montana is home to the largest smokejumper base in the U.S.? You can visit the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula (about an hour up the road). Admission is free.

Antique tractor rolls down the street at the Western Heritage Days parade

Of course there's a tractor at the Western Heritage Days parade

How long has it been since you’ve seen a tractor like this one? Farming is big in the Bitterroot Valley. Alan and I can see the hayfields from our house. Watching farmers cut the hay into rows is mesmerizing. And, we appreciate the locally sourced foods that we find at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market as well as the one in Stevensville.

Don’t you have a favorite local parade? Post a comment to tell us about it. I bet you didn’t know that I was a majorette at Russell High School and later at Georgia State University. I’m just itching to grab my baton and lead the Western Heritage Days Parade down Main Street. If only there were bands in these parades.

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A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark H June 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I love festivals in towns and cities and have stumbled across them quite a few times on my travels. I have fond memories of Independence Day in a small town Craif in SE Alaska with a colourful parade full of things that made Craig “tick” (photo here: http://travel-wonders.com/2010/07/05/photo-of-the-week-independence-day-craig-alaska-usa/).
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Donna Hull
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July 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Thanks for sharing such a fun post, Mark!

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Mark H June 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Oops, that should be Craig and not “Craif”.
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sheryl July 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Great photos. Parades are such a fun way of gathering community spirit. And I’d imagine, since you’re fairly new to the community, it’s a great way to feel a part of it!
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Donna Hull
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July 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Sheryl, I’ve attended lots of parades but none like the ones here in the Bitterroot. I’m certainly learning about my new community.

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chris April 16, 2014 at 6:48 am

I wish my town would do parades, so boring where I live.
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