Friday Flash 7/9/21

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Wildland Fire Information for Travelers

The Montana Department of Commerce will again provide relevant wildland fire updates and resources for tourism partners and the traveling public at MARKETMT.COM. The page will be updated as fire activity impacts popular destination areas.

Save the Dates...

  • July 20, 2021—Region/CVB 4th Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • October 4-5, 2021—TAC Meeting (Location TBD)
  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 18 CVBs, the Montana Tourism Advisory Council and specific industry stakeholders. The calls are held on the fourth Wednesday, every other month from 10:00-11:00 a.m. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Barb Sanem or call her at 406.841.2769. 
    • July 28, 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021

Recreate Responsibly

Recreate Responsibly Toolkit and Resources

The Montana Office of Tourism is committed to keeping Montana’s outdoor spaces, communities, residents, and visitors safe. Please join us communicating these guidelines for responsible recreation to visitors traveling throughout Montana.

As part of this initiative, the Montana Office of Tourism has developed a toolkit of resources to help you educate residents and visitors on safe travel best practices. To learn more or download the toolkit, click here

Tourism Grant Program

Tourism Grant Application Cycle Opens August 1!

We are happy to announce that the annual application cycle of the Tourism Grant Program will open at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 1, 2021 via Submittable, an online platform. The 2022 application cycle will close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 15.

In preparation for the application cycle, the Tourism Grant Program is hosting a webinar training workshop on July 22 at 2:00 p.m.. This webinar will provide a review of the program guidelines and timeline; updates to the FY22 cycle and an overview of the application. To register for the FY22 pre-application workshops click here.  

For more information about the Tourism Grant Program and the annual application cycle please visit our website at MARKETMT.COM

Made in Montana

Shop Local

We encourage you to support your local businesses when possible. The Made in Montana online directory is a great place to find Made in Montana items and support local businesses. 

Eat Local

Now more than ever, the "eat local" movement is gaining interest. People want to know where their food is coming from. Our Taste our Place program aims to promote and increase the use of locally sourced ingredients at Montana restaurants, bars and other establishments serving food and beverages. Check out this list of Taste our Place members and savor the Montana flavor when dining out.   

2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts is scheduled for September 10-11, 2021 in Helena at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. 

Wholesale Buyer Registration Open
Join us for the 2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow to discover all new Made in Montana products as well as old favorites for your retail space. This year's show will feature 125 Made in Montana producers, over 30 new exhibitors, and our Native American Made in Montana Pavilion. 

Buyers must meet the following criteria:

  1. Own/Manage/Buy for a retail store, shop, restaurant, or similarly associated business OR be staff with purchasing authority
  2. Provide documentation of relevant occupation/status with a business card or similar (invoice, business checks, etc.)
  3. Register no more than four buyers/representatives per business - unless prior permission is granted by show management

To learn more or register as a wholesale buyer, click here

Seeking Nominations for 2021 Retailer of the Year!
This award recognizes a Made in Montana retailer who makes an outstanding effort to represent the Made in Montana brand, supports Montana producers, and is committed to promoting the sale of Made in Montana goods to residents and visitors alike. 

If you know of a retailer that fits the description, this is your chance to nominate them to be honored as the 2021 Made in Montana Retailer of the Year.

Tribal News

Sage & Oats

Our Grants Make a Big Impact to Montana Businesses and Communities

Sage & Oats Trading Post in Helena Creating Online Store After Receiving Tribal Tourism Grant
The Montana Department of Commerce announced nearly $100,000 in funding to support the growth of 14 Native American-owned small businesses through the Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development Grant Program. One recipient in Helena plans to use the money to establish their online presence.

From Croatia, Japan, Mexico and everywhere else, Sage & Oats Trading Post carries a wide variety of handmade products from different cultures all around the world that have a presence in Montana.

“Part of our audience obviously, and the products that we have, are related to tribes of Montana but we also represent artists that are Scottish, Irish, and Scandinavian,” says Major Robinson, Co-owner of Sage & Oats. “So we really want to celebrate the diversity that exists here in Montana and the different cultures." 

Major Robinson and his wife are now taking that diversity online with about a $5,000 grant from the Department of Commerce. Sage & Oats is ready to showcase their whole catalog to the web and hopefully attract more tourists to Helena. “It's been a bridge for people who have found us on social media. The e-commerce component of the grant helps us to allow people to continue their shopping experience until they can come into the physical store," says Michelle Robinson, Co-owner of the store. Read more from KTVH here

Outdoor Recreation


4 Things You Should Know if You Can't Get a Reservation to Going-to-the-Sun Road

There are many other options to enjoy all that Glacier National Park and the surrounding area has to offer. This recently released video offers tips to enjoy your Glacier experience even if you can't get on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Watch it here

Partnerships Lead to New Future for Fort Owen

People who've partnered to restore one of the most historic places in Montana get a reminder of not just a legacy, but a little bit of the pioneer conditions too on Wednesday.

Leaders from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Montana State Parks Foundation, and the Friends of Fort Owen gathered at the newly re-worked site north of Stevensville, marking the first phase of changes. 

These changes include a newly paved access road, better parking, and signage. All to improve the visitor experience at the tiny park and be a better neighbor for the surrounding Fort Owen Ranch. Owner Myla Yahraus, who purchased the ranch three years ago, cooperated in the expansion, acknowledging the park's importance. FWP staff praised her thoughtfulness and inspiration. Read more from KPAX here

Heritage/Cultural News

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Experience to Launch to the Traveling Public on July 19

The National Park Service is proud to announce that the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Experience will be officially launched and promoted live to the traveling public beginning Monday, July 19.

The site remains active for nominations to the Interactive Map Guide. Geotourism partners are encouraged to continue nominating new sites and businesses in your community to the site. The more points we have on the Map Guide for your destination, the greater the localized experience will be for visitors passing through your region.

Montana in the News
Tourism Partner Shout-Outs, Recognition and News

GlacierGlacier Reports 41% Increase in Visitors on Going-to-the-Sun Road—On opening day this year, the number of visitors to Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road soared compared to its 2019 season.

In a news release, the park said it saw a 41% increase in vehicles on the road compared to opening day in 2019, with the overall number of cars and trucks on the road between Memorial Day and the end of June up 20 percent compared to the same year. The park is comparing the data to 2019 due to closures from the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. 

The park said it expects this to be a busy year, and the National Park Service expects a robust tourism season in parks across the country. In Montana just outside Glacier, some businesses are already seeing high numbers of customers.

Sharlyn Reed from the Polebridge Mercantile, a popular shop with a bakery and cabin rentals just outside the remote Polebridge entrance to the park, said it is having a brisk season in the North Fork so far. “Every year grows a bit, but for sure, we are quite busy this year,” Reed said. “People seem to be coming in waves, unless it’s a weekend. Then it’s just a steady stream of customers.”

On the Going-to-the Sun Road, the increase in visitors follows the implementation of a ticketed entry system, which the park said is designed to decrease traffic on the road and help avoid closures of the West Entrance. Read more from the Missoula Current here

KalispellJetBlue Begins Service to Kalispell, Montana, the Gateway to Glacier National Park and Beyond—JetBlue completed its first flight to Glacier Park International Airport (FCA), located in Kalispell, Montana. Kalispell, situated in the Flathead Valley, serves as a gateway to the world-renowned Glacier National Park and is surrounded by endless outdoor activities facilitated by the beautiful Rocky Mountains, numerous lakes, hiking and biking trails, and the rest of wide open Big Sky country. As New York’s Hometown Airline, JetBlue will operate flights between Glacier Park International and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) three times weekly with seasonal service through September 7.

“As we identify new markets in our network, we continue to see great interest and demand for destinations where travelers can experience the scenic outdoors and wide open spaces, especially our famed national parks,” said Andrea Lusso, vice president network planning, JetBlue. “Connecting our customers to the gateway to Glacier National Park and the rest of the Flathead Valley shows we are listening to current travel trends and responding by connecting these destinations to our focus cities.” Read more from Valdosta Daily Times here.

LivingstonLivingston Economy Bounces Back with Return of Rondup Rodeo—With the Livingston Roundup Rodeo being sidelined last year due to the pandemic, nearly every business in town was impacted somehow financially. Thankfully 2021 is a very different story, and the local economy is getting a much-needed boost over the Fourth of July weekend.

“I don’t know what the numbers are right now, but I know that myself and everybody on staff here are working harder than they’ve ever worked here, and that’s a good thing," The Mint Bar & Grill owner Richard Lowe laughed. "It’s the best problem to have.”

For a town that only has 8,200 residents, the Livingston Roundup draws over 10,000 visitors every year to its arena alone. It's estimated that the City of Livingston brings in approximately $3.4 million dollars over those three days. “Fortunately, we had enough cushion in our bank accounts that we could survive the year," Livingston Roundup Association president Bruce Becker said. "We were able to put on the firework show last year without injuring our finances too much.” Read more from Montana Sports here.

Other News

Gov Gianforte Declares Statewide Drought Emergency

Governor Greg Gianforte issued an executive order declaring a statewide drought emergency in Montana.

“Every region of the state faces severe to extreme drought conditions, and the situation is getting worse. These alarming drought conditions are devastating our ag producers, challenging our tourism industry, and could bring a severe wildfire season,” Gov. Gianforte said. “This emergency order makes available all necessary state government resources to mitigate the impacts of this drought and protect Montanans.”

Executive Order 11-2021 directs the Departments of Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources and Conservation to provide maximum assistance to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on drought-related activities to secure timely economic assistance from the federal government.

It also suspends regulations for motor carriers and persons operating commercial vehicles while they provide direct drought-related support.

According to data in the Summer 2021 Montana Drought Forecast Report released yesterday, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates approximately 91 percent of Montana faces abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions as of June 22.

Drought conditions at this point in 2021 are substantially worse than at the same time last year when approximately 52 percent of the state confronted similar conditions.

The July forecast projects below-normal precipitation throughout the state and a 40 to 50 percent chance of above-normal temperatures across much of Montana.

The governor’s executive order declaring a statewide drought emergency is effective immediately and can be viewed here.

Funding Resources

FY22 Montana Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant 

The Office of Indian Country Economic Development is accepting applications to the fiscal year 2022 Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant program. Applications will be accepted through August 31, 2021.

Grant funds are intended to support tribal members in Montana to start or grow their business by deploying funds to support their business strategy. Funds may be used for the purchase of land, building and equipment, assets including furnishings, equipment and technology and selected use of working capital and business operations. 

Tribal enrolled members of Montana tribes are the only eligible applicants for this portion of the Program. All applications must include documentation of tribal enrollment. A maximum of $14,000 per eligible applicant will be available in fiscal year 2022. 

Native American Business Advisors are available on each Reservation to assist applicants as they develop their grant proposals. Contact information for each advisor is available at NABA.

For more information contact Luke Robinson or visit the website.

Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge

USDA is making available up to $3 million in cooperative agreements under the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) for eligible entities to help them provide planning support, technical assistance and training to foster placemaking activities in rural communities. Qualified entities can use the funds to help rural communities create plans to enhance capacity for broadband access; preserve cultural and historic structures; and support the development of transportation, housing, and recreational spaces. For more information, click here

Other Events/Dates to Note

July 27, 2021ARPA Infrastructure Advisory Commission Meeting—The ARPA Infrastructure Advisory Commission will meet Tuesday, July 27, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. in the State Capitol. The meeting will be held in Room 137 as well as virtually, and livestreamed here. Click the “Streaming For Today” button on

If you cannot be in Helena and would like to give live public comment, you may join the meeting via Zoom. Please email by noon, July 26, 2021, to request login information.

During the meeting, the Commission will discuss public comments, review outreach activities, and summarize applications received. 

Find the meeting agenda and information here

American Trails Presents Advancing Trails Webinar Series—American Trails brings agencies, trailbuilders, advocates, and volunteers the latest in state-of-the-art information on all aspects of trails and greenways. Our webinars focus on a variety of trail topics, usually applicable to all trail types, with expert presenters. Webinar topics are chosen from current cutting-edge trail topics selected from attendee/presenter suggestions as well as recent popular conference sessions. For more information, visit or click on individual webinar links below. 

Upcoming webinars:

September 23-25, 202148th Annual Montana History Conference (Butte)—After a year of isolation and social distancing, the Montana Historical Society is excited to gather with our friends for “A Blast from the Past! Mining Montana History.” The Montana History Conference is an annual gathering of history enthusiasts from across the state and the nation.

The conference begins on Thursday with workshops ranging from re-registering you livestock brand to tips for getting your historical books and articles published. Thursday also offers an educators’ workshop and the ever-popular, daylong Made in Montana Tour.

Thursday evening finds us in historic Uptown sampling “A Taste of Butte” in a progressive reception featuring the Elks Club, Headframe Distillery, and 51 Below Speakeasy. Afterward, the adventurous can join Ellen Baumler for tales of historical otherworldly encounters followed by a visit to some of Butte’s most haunted places.

On Friday and Saturday, conference sessions will feature a wide array of speakers and topics including scandals at the State Highway Commission and the State Normal College in Dillon, to the Great Explosion of 1895 and tales of Butte’s infamous “Galloping Gallows. For full program and registration information, click here.