Montana culture

Montana culture

Bruce Richards | Sunday, 22 February 2015

Some might not quite get the fly fishing/casting connection of this FP, it is kinda weak. I was driving 30 miles to fish the Ruby River in SW Montana on Saturday. To get there I had to go through the little town of Virginia City, where gold was first discovered in Montana in the 1860s. The town still looks much like it did then, it was a ghost town for a while but has been restored to a semi-functional state. Known locally just as “VC”, the town boasts a population of 190. But an interesting 190 it is!

Last weekend was VCs annual “Winter Fest”. As I passed through town I noticed the crowd and stopped to see what was happening. The festivities were great fun and after a couple beers my fishing lust waned and I stayed a while to enjoy small town Montana culture and hospitality.

The festival revolves mainly around a broomball tournament. I don’t know if broomball is played elsewhere, probably not. It’s like hockey, played on a hockey rink, but no skates, a volleyball instead of a puck, and few rules. Well, there are rules but they aren’t taken seriously.  It was warm Saturday, almost 60 so the ice was mostly slush. Warm enough that dehydration was a problem for both spectators and competitors, solved with copious quantities of a “sports drink” that looked a lot like beer.

Along with broomball there was a race called “dog in a wheelbarrow” which involves running down the middle of Main Street with, you guessed it, a dog in a wheelbarrow. I turns out most dogs don’t like riding in wheelbarrows. The races went on for half an hour, no serious injuries. Although on Main Street on a Saturday, the races never had to be halted to let traffic pass. I asked how they got permission to run the races on Main Street (the police station was just a block away). The answer, “we find it’s better if we don’t ask”!

Between events everyone gathered in the Pioneer Bar, which has been operating since 1867, which is about when people first started living in that part of Montana. Great place.

OK, then I went fishing. Warm, calm, sunny, no other people. Fishing was so-so due to bright sun, but enough fish cooperated to make it a great end to a fine day afield!

Winter Fest 090-2
Winter Fest 179-2

Winter Fest 184-2

Winter Fest 196-2

Winter Fest 207-2
Winter Fest 090-2Winter Fest 179-2Winter Fest 184-2Winter Fest 196-2Winter Fest 207-2