Small town living at the Western Heritage Days Parade

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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.

Here come the boy scouts!
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.

Old farm truck in the Western Heritage Days 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Don’t you have a favorite local parade? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.


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