November 2, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
At the turn of the last century, the small Montana town of Ovando could boast of a population of over 1,000 people within its boundaries living off a strong cattle and logging economy. Many of today's 50 residents rely on their wits and talents to create a living, making Ovando one of the highest per capita towns in Montana of artisans and writers. Ovando celebrates its wellspring of talent with its first annual Old West Christmas Fest, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 24-26 and December 1-3.
"Ovando has it all!" claims the sign on Highway 200 off of which the town is located. And so it has. Writers, artisans, painters and cooks will besiege Ovando during these weekends, and you will be able to sample and purchase any of the fine wares displayed throughout the historical Ovando buildings.
From Pinto ponies for sale, to hand stitched sweaters and vests, paintings and drawings, pottery, bird feeders, quilts, and calendars, Ovando does indeed have it all. Handmade furniture in maple and cherry by local craftsman Tim Swansberg will be present at the Ovando Old West Christmas Fest, as well as author and life long resident Howard Copenhaver, who will be selling and signing his three books depicting his 60 years as one of the first outfitters and guides in Montana's famous Bob Marshall Wilderness. The beautiful Swanswoods wooden salad bowls will be available, as well as the Blackfoot Cattlewomen Society's afghans, scarves and napkins.
Going away hungry isn't an option either. The Ovando landmark Trixie's Diner and Antler Saloon will be open during the festivities and they will also be serving up a special hot chili from the Town Plaza. Also being served around the historical town will be soup, sandwiches, desserts, baked goods, Indian fry bread [chuck wagon style], and hot dogs.
The three permanent shops in Ovando will be open for business with many added Christmas gifts and ornaments available for purchase: The Blackfoot Steamer will warm the soul with hot espresso, lattes and chocolate; The Blackfoot Commercial Company with cold drinks, snacks, and wooden crafts; and the Blackfoot Angler Fly Shop with every kind of gift for the fisherman or woman.
The Mt. Ovando 4-H Club will be present to assist with gift-wrapping any of your purchases.
Rounding off the Ovando Old West Christmas Fest will be Ole St. Nick himself every afternoon. Our Cowboy Santa will arrive via horse and hear each child's [or even grown ups] Christmas request. Along with a Kids Fishing Booth, horse wagon rides, and a puppet show, singers from the Blackfoot Community Church will serenade with Christmas Carols each day.
Located off Highway 200 between Missoula and Great Falls in the picturesque Blackfoot River Valley, the Ovando Old West Christmas Fest is easy to find with ample parking. If you need lodging check out the Blackfoot Inn at 406-793-5555 or Lake Upsata Guest Ranch at 406-793-5890.
Please contact Kathy at 406-793-3474 or Peggy at 793-5555 for questions or directions.