Montana’s Glacier National Park Celebrates Centennial

Celebrations include art, music, education and even a hootenanny or two

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Glacier Park celebrates its centennial // (c) 2010 Glacier Park

Glacier Park celebrates its centennial // (c) 2010 Glacier Park

One hundred years of history deserves a little celebration — so this spring and summer, Glacier National Park will celebrate by way of art, music, education and even a hootenanny or two. The crowning celebration took place on May 11 when the park celebrated its official 100-year birthday, but beyond that big day, events and activities will occur throughout the spring and summer.

Beginning in March and ending in September, at the Glacier Centennial Film Festival a different film or documentary will play once a month in honor of Glacier Park. Each carefully chosen piece was filmed on location in Glacier or tells a story about the park. Films will be shown in a variety of venues throughout the valley. Perhaps the most charming choice of films will be a showing of family vacation movies from Glacier during the 1950s and ’60s.

“The purpose of this film festival is to engage a lot of the community through a lot of different venues,” explained Glacier National Park Centennial spokesman, Kass Hardy.

Back before movies, it was art that brought most people their first glimpses of the park. Literally, the first images of Glacier that the American public saw was from government-commissioned artists that traveled on the Great Northern Railroad to capture our nation’s beauty.

“Art has the ability to tell the story of the park, and it’s important to tell the story of this heritage. In the early 1900s, most people couldn’t afford to come to Glacier and art was how they saw it. The early artists told the story of Glacier,” Hardy explained.

In keeping with this early theme of art as a way to experience the Park and feel its inspiration, the Hockaday Museum will host the Plein Air Paint Out from June 22-25. A map of on-location painters will be available and many artists will offer evening discussion about their paintings and the importance of art. The paintings will be presented and sold on June 26 at a reception at the Hockaday.

Inspiration also extends into music, and on May 24-25 the Flathead High School Choir will sing songs about Glacier. And what would nature be without striking a symphonic chord, so the Glacier Symphony will perform a Glacier-inspired concert at Rebecca Farms on July 10.

Glacier inspiration takes the form of folk music when former park employees reunite to perform in old-fashioned hootenannies. These impromptu music gatherings were commonplace in earlier park times, and former employees will share the joy on July 30 at Many Glacier Lodge; on Aug. 2 in East Glacier; and on Aug. 3 at Lake McDonald Lodge.

Local outfitters throughout the spring and summer will share in the centennial fun; many have created special centennial tours or events to celebrate the history. Belton Chalet’s Grand Heritage Tours will take place throughout the summer; these tours replicate early visitor’s experience of Glacier by horseback, boat and chalet.

Over 70 businesses and local venues will host the various centennial events, which makes this celebration a true community affair.

Centennial Information

Flathead Valley Information

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