• The Red Ants Pants Music Festival will run July 23-26 in White Sulphur Springs. Photo by Erik Petersen

    Who said it? The best-of MT quotes

    It’s not hard to wax poetic about the Big Sky State. Our contributors prove that each time they head out and talk to people across Montana for the stories that fill our magazine.

    We’ve compiled some of the best quotes – so far – from our 2015 issues. Trust me, the story attached are just as good as the quote. Read through our Who Said Its and find out, well, who said it.

    A Yurtski yurt in the Swan Mountains. Courtesy of Yurtski

    A Yurtski yurt in the Swan Mountains. Courtesy of Yurtski

    Here’s our top four quotes: 

    • “At the end of the day, I’d rather spend 14 hours struggling again Mother Nature than eight hours at a desk job.” Who said it? 
    • “From tearing it down to ripping the stinky elk hide off the bone.” Who said it?
    • “Here, Montanans will travel quite a ways. I’ve never been to a state where everyone is so proud to be from here. It’s contagious.” Who said it?
    • “It was  by far the coolest music festival I’ve been to. That one just has a really special vibe to it, and it’s the most amazing setting I’ve ever seen.” Who said it?

    Jenna

  • The towers of the Judith Gap Wind Farm, six miles south of Judith Gap, stand motionless during a windless sunrise. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    J is for: The Gap, which is a lot more than wind turbines

    J – as names-of-Montana-cities goes – is for “The Gap.” Or, should we say, Judith Gap.

    Many know the small town for its huge wind turbine farm that captures the prairie winds that blow often. But as Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin and photographer Kurt Wilson found, there’s a lot more to The Gap (as local call it) then first meets the eye.

    Including the fact that it’s school has the smallest enrollment in Montana:

    judtih gap 3

    Taekwondo instructor Gary Hart walks from his home across the street to the school’s gymnasium where he holds free classes during the summer. The school is open several evenings a week for community activities. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    When the Class of 2015 at Judith Gap High School selected its commencement speaker, the vote was unanimous.

    Which is to say, Dakota Jolliff asked an uncle to deliver her graduation address.

    She was the only senior. Some years, there haven’t been any.

    The tiniest high school in all Montana is here in Judith Gap, a town located midway between the Little Belt and Big Snowy mountain ranges. The enrollment in grades 9-12 hovers around six, and as you’ll see, they go out of their way – way out of their way – to keep it that high.

    Those two mountain ranges funnel some of the state’s harshest winter weather out of the north and down upon Judith Gap’s citizenry. Six miles south of town, huge windmill blades stretch 40 stories into the sky above the Montana prairie to catch the wind and put it to good use.

    • See a gallery of images from Judith gap here
    A visiting tourist looks over the windmill blade attraction at "Blade Park" in Judith Gap. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    A visiting tourist looks over the windmill blade attraction at “Blade Park” in Judith Gap. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Judith Gap Wind Farm, the largest wind farm in the state, converts the air currents into electricity capable of powering all 80-some homes in Judith Gap – and approximately 359,920 more – through 90 wind towers.

    “We’re almost a mile high, and the winters are pretty rough,” Mayor Dave Foster says. “It gets to be brutal when you get a storm.”

    And did you know, that the jail is unlocked in Judith Gap? 

    The story is part of an on-going series about Montana towns by the Missoulian. Here’s a link to the rest of the stories.

    Enjoy!

    Jenna 

  • Organic grain grown in Montana featured in new Kellogg’s cereal

    Cool news for a cool Montana company: Kamut brand wheat is featured as a main star in Kellogg’s new cereal, Origins Ancient Grains Blend Cereal.

    Kamut is an organic grain grown mainly in Montana. It’s company headquarters is in Missoula.

    Here’s more about the cereal:

    origins

    Kellogg’s Origins Ancient Grains Blend cereal was developed in response to the growing consumer demand for simple foods prepared with recognizable ingredients, and is an ideal breakfast option for adults and children, as it combines nutritional value with delicious taste. The cereal is made with crunchy flakes of wheat, brown rice and barley, KAMUT® khorasan wheat puffs, spelt and quinoa. Lightly sweetened with a touch of honey, Kellogg’s Origins™ contains no artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors or hydrogenated oils.

    We featured an article about Kamut founder Bob Quinn’s commitment to organic farming and Kamut’s growing popularity in 2009. Take a look below (click the images for a larger verision): 

    kamut

     

    kamut-2

  • A rider takes on a bull at the Drummond PRCA Rodeo. Photo by Loren Benoit

    What’s it takes to ride a bull? Rodeo season ramps up across Montana

    It’s rodeo time in Montana.

    If you haven’t had a chance to get out and catch some of the action, we’ve got a few links that’ll make you feel like you didn’t miss a thing.

    The Drummond PRCA Rodeo was last weekend. And Missoula native Dustin Jenkins told the Missoulian’s Andy Bixler what it takes to successfully ride a bull. 

    “It’s 90 percent mental,” he said. “When you’re on the bull, you can’t think about anything else, you just have to react to what’s happening.”

    . . .

    The Missoula native won the bull riding competition at the 73rd annual Drummond PRCA rodeo, staying on the full eight seconds and scoring 76 points. 

    • See a photo gallery of the Drummond rodeo here

    “I was happy to get that win, because he was a really hard bull to ride,” Jenkins said. “Just being able to stay on was a victory in itself.”

    David Graham of Great Falls starts to lean off of Secret Agent during the bull riding competition at the 73rd annual Drummond rodeo on Sunday. Graham finished second. Photo by Loren Benoit

    David Graham of Great Falls starts to lean off of Secret Agent during the bull riding competition at the 73rd annual Drummond rodeo on Sunday. Graham finished second. Photo by Loren Benoit

    That held true for nearly all the bulls on Sunday. Jenkins was one of only two riders to complete a ride; the other was David Graham of Great Falls, who took second with a 64.

    And we can’t forget Buck Wild Wednesdays in Billings.

    Leighton Potter of Billings competes in the Buck Wild Wednesdays bull riding at the Rock Pile on North 27th Street on Wednesday. The weekly event will be held through September 2. Photo by Casey Page

    Leighton Potter of Billings competes in the Buck Wild Wednesdays bull riding at the Rock Pile on North 27th Street on Wednesday. The weekly event will be held through September 2. Photo by Casey Page

    Area bull riders compete in the Buck Wild Wednesdays bull riding event at the Rock Pile on North 27th Street. The weekly event will be held through September 2.

     

    If you want to catch from bull riding, head down to Darby this today for the Elite Bull Connection and Darby Bullarama. There are more than 40 bulls and lots of prize money.

     

  • A common loon takes flight over Rainy Lake in the Seeley-Swan Valley last week. There are 200 to 250 loons in Montana, including 75 nesting pairs. Photo by Michael Gallacher

    Coalition works to protect Montana loons

    Loons have become a rare sight in Montana recently. The unfortunate truth was noticed by a broad group of Montanans, which is now working to protect and preserve the birds.

    Missoulian reporter David Erickson explains:

    RAINY LAKE – Most birds’ songs are pleasing to human ears, but the haunting call of the loon – the way it pierces the air as it resonates off a quiet mountain lake’s placid surface – evokes a feeling of wildness like perhaps no other sound on Earth.

    Innumerable writers have spilled considerable ink trying to describe it, but there’s no substitute for the real thing.

    Unfortunately, people have to get pretty lucky to hear or see the creatures these days in the western U.S.

    Loons are fickle, territorial birds, and lakeshore development, motor boats, pollution, lead fishing weights and human disturbance threaten the species’ reproductive rate and habitat.

    Kristi DuBois, left, a wildlife biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Ashley Huinker, an Montana State University biology student, monitor loons on Rainy Lake in the Seeley-Swan Valley last week. Photo by Michael Gallacher

    Kristi DuBois, left, a wildlife biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Ashley Huinker, an Montana State University biology student, monitor loons on Rainy Lake in the Seeley-Swan Valley last week. Photo by Michael Gallacher

    There are only between 200 and 250 common loons in Montana, including 75 nesting pairs, making them a species of concern.

    And even though small, that’s still the largest population of loons in the lower 48 west of Minnesota. There are only one or two known nesting pairs in Idaho, for example.

    The birds don’t produce many offspring and they aren’t good at pioneering new territory.

    In the Clearwater-Blackfoot watershed of western Montana, there were only four loon chicks hatched this year, although the numbers vary every spring.

    That’s why, since 1999, a small army of state wildlife officials, agencies, tribes, businesses, volunteers and interns – collectively known as the Common Loon Working Group – has been working to observe, collect data and protect the species while educating the public about the threats to its long-term survival.

    “It’s a massive, statewide, collaborative effort,” said Kristi DuBois, a non-game wildlife biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, as she glassed a pair of newly hatched loon chicks with a spotting scope recently at Rainy Lake in the Seeley-Swan Valley. “It takes a village to monitor loons.”

    Read the rest of the story and see more photos here

  • Photo by Tom Bauer

    Top reader photos: A salute to Montana

    They’ve done it once again. Our readers are experts at capturing Montana at its best.

    And in this edition of our top reader photos, we’ve got some wonderfully beautiful Montana summertime scenes.

    There’s a few sunsets, of course. And some beautiful bloom, too.

    Scroll down to enjoy. 

    Blooms and bees in Helena. Photo by Terri Garrison-Kinsman

    Blooms and bees in Helena. Photo by Terri Garrison-Kinsman

     

    The Northern Lights near Broadview. Photo by Gary Luce

    The Northern Lights near Broadview. Photo by Gary Luce

     

    Sawtooth Ridge in the Sun River Wildlife Management Area. Photo by Mark Curtis

    Sawtooth Ridge in the Sun River Wildlife Management Area. Photo by Mark Curtis

     

    A storm south of Billings. Photo by Dave Berry

    A storm south of Billings. Photo by Dave Berry

     

    A Bozeman sunset. Photo by Terri Garrison-Kinsman

    A Bozeman sunset. Photo by Terri Garrison-Kinsman

     

    Jenna

  • Newton Old Crow. Photo by Erika Haight

    Beautiful Connection: An intimate glimpse of the Crow Nation

    Photography of Erika Haight

    Erika Haight is often asked why she makes her photographs – including a sweeping set of portraits of people from Montana’s Crow Nation – in black and white.

    In a world full of Instagram filtered and digitally altered images exploding with colors, Haight’s answer is simple.

    “You actually are forced to see the person,” she said.

    The Montana native and Roundup resident has long photographed Western life around Montana, taking her stay-at-home mom hobby to the professional level when her work began being published in publications like Cowboys and Indians Magazine.

    “Being a stay-at-home mom kind of gave me the liberty to go out and do other things. I got stuck on photography and bloomed from there,” she said.

    Haight’s set of black and white photographs from the Crow Nation, currently on display at the Western Heritage Center, was created after Haight forged a special bond with the Real Bird family of the Crow Nation.

    Photo by Erika Haight

    Photo by Erika Haight

    Haight’s “Apsaalooke Beauty” exhibit will be on display at the Western Heritage Center through Sept. 12.

    Apsaalooke Beauty exhibit

    “Apsaalooke Beauty,” a fine art photography exhibit by Erika Haight honoring the people of the Crow Nation will be on display at the Western Heritage Center in Billings through Sept. 12. An artist reception will be held at the museum on Aug. 7, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

    The Western Heritage Center is located at 2822 Montana Avenue in Billings. For more information, visit ywhc.org.

    To view the entire Beautiful Connection Portfolio, subscribe today

    • Donaldson_20130625_5514

      Catfish fingers with lemon tarragon sauce are often served at the Kestrel Prairie Camp. Photo by Lynn Donaldson

    • Donaldson_20130625_5796

      Bison short ribs Provencal with creamy polenta and French green beans. Photo by Lynn Donaldson

    • Donaldson_20130625_5866

      Chefs serving food at the Kestrel Prairie camp have to haul food down miles of dirt roads. Photo by Lynn Donaldson

    • Donaldson_20130625_5919

      The Kestrel Prairie Camp, including yurt housing, is on the American Prairie Reserve in north central Montana. Photo by Lynn Donaldson

    • Mustang Catering -- American Prairie Reserve June 2013

      Guests are served gourmet dinners at the Kestrel Prairie Camp. Photo by Lynn Donaldson

    • Mustang Catering -- American Prairie Reserve June 2013

      Campfires and s'mores are often included in Kestrel Prairie Camp dinners. Photo by Lynn Donaldson

    The Last Best Plates explores the Kestrel Prairie Camp

    This is the fourth piece in a six-part The Last Best Plates series about food and eating in Montana featuring the photography of Lynn Donaldson and the writing of Corinne Garcia. For more information, visit thelastbestplates.com.

    By Corinne Garcia

    Photos by Lynn Donaldson

    Encompassing a large stretch of land with few people residing on it, Montana is arguably best known for its high mountain peaks and glacial lakes in Glacier National Park, and its neon colored, steam-gushing geothermic wonders in Yellowstone.

    Another astonishing viewshed is the Great Plains of eastern Montana, a prairie landscape that stretches for miles upon miles.

    This is the setting of a Montana dining adventure like no other, and the venue is a yurt camp on what’s known as the Kestrel Prairie, sometimes called the “American Serengeti.”

    The land is owned by the American Prairie Reserve, or APR.

    The organization hopes to create the largest wildlife reserve in the continental United States by linking more than three million acres of private and public land on north central Montana’s legendary Great Plains.

    Its mission is to preserve and rehabilitate the land to an oasis for a unique natural habitat that includes wildlife and native grasses and plants.

    “We’re building the next great national park with a twist,” said Hilary Parker, APR communications manager. “It will be privately owned for public benefit.”

    If it were a success, the reserve would be larger than Yellowstone National Park and equivalent to the size of the state of Connecticut.

    Now in the development stages, APR hosts fundraising and volunteer stays at the Kestrel Prairie Camp.

    Many have featured meals catered by Livingston chef Carole Sullivan of Mustang Catering. Here, people from all over the world convene to celebrate the wild landscape and its potential revival.

    For a signature outdoor feast that is typically held on the final evening of a stay, guests dine on dishes that are representative of the West, such as a salad of local greens and braised bison short ribs served Provençal style, with kalamata olives and fresh herbs.

    • Scroll down to view the recipe for bison short ribs Provencal

    Other dishes capture good old Americana flavors, such as a southern dish of fried catfish fingers with a lemon tarragon sauce.

    Sullivan finishes the meal with a lemon goat cheesecake, made with organic goat cheese from the Bozeman based Amaltheia Dairy.

    Getting the food there and preparing it is no simple task.

    “Many times, I’ve had to pack food for five days worth of meals for up to 12 people,” Sullivan said.

    She has been catering events at the camp since before electricity was hooked up, and travels with food in tow down miles of dirt roads to reach the Kestrel.

    But the travels there are well worth it for the views.

    “It’s at one moment both exhilarating and peaceful, which is a rare combination,” Parker said.

    The final dinner typically involves flavor combination that coincides nicely with the landscape, a special treat after a long day of tearing down fences and moving rocks.

    And after a campfire – with s’mores included – guests can fall into bed in nearby yurts, drifting off to the sounds of the grasslands blowing in the cool summer breeze.

    Corinne Garcia and Lynn Donaldson are frequent contributors to Montana Magazine. Garcia writes from Bozeman. Donaldson is based in Livingston.

    Recipe: Bison Short Ribs Provençal 

    Ingredients

    5 to 6 pounds bison short ribs

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 ½ cups red wine

    2 cups beef broth

    ½ cup yellow onions, diced

    ½ cup medium carrots, peeled and diced

    ½ cup celery, diced

    1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

    2 cups canned diced tomatoes

    1 bay leaf

    2 fresh thyme sprigs

    2 fresh parsley sprigs

    1 cup Kalamata olives, sliced

    1 tablespoon lemon zest

    ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

    ¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped

    Directions

    Salt and pepper ribs.

    In a large oven-safe pot, on medium-high heat, brown ribs in olive oil on both sides, about 8 minutes. This needs to be done in two batches. Once browned, use tongs to remove ribs and set aside.

    In the same pot, add red wine, and scrape up brown bits collected from the ribs on the bottom of the pan.

    Add beef broth to wine and stir for another minute. Next, add all of vegetables, including canned tomatoes, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    Add ribs and fresh herbs to the boiling liquid. Cover pot with foil and place in preheated oven.

    Bake for 2 ½ hours, and occasionally change position of the ribs for optimum cooking. It’s ready when the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender.

    Ideally, you’ll need a large over pot or roasting pan with a lid. If you don’t have one, before baking, transfer ribs to a large baking dish and cover tightly with foil.

    Top with Kalamata olives and lemon zest, then garnish with flat leaf parsely and fresh thyme.

    -Courtesy of Carole Sullivan, “Gatherings Friends and Recipes” from Montana’s Mustang Kitchen

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