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Montana Skate Series comes to St. Ignatius

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ST. IGNATIUS- According to its website, the Skate Ignatius Skatepark was born, “on a bleak winter day in February of 2004 when two boys drank themselves to death in a field outside of Ronan.” One year later, a valley-wide meeting was held to discuss problems like substance abuse and poverty. Sadly, “nothing happened.”

In January of 2006, the first recreation coalition was held in St. Ignatius to discuss the lack of healthy recreational activities in the area. Spearheaded by St. Ignatius resident Kristie Nerby, the coalition gained public support for the project and brought the idea before St. Ignatius’ city council. Within six months, the land was donated and the park’s construction approved. 

On July 28 at noon, six years and 11 days after the St. Ignatius City Council agreed to donate the land and insure the park, Skate Ignatius will host the second leg of the first-ever Montana Skatepark Series. 

“Oh my god, the kids are so excited,” Nerby said. “This is a really big deal; it’s coming full circle for the entire project. Being chosen by the Montana Skate Series is a big honor.”

Montana Skatepark Association president Chris Bacon said all proceeds will go towards completing Missoula’s MOBASH skatepark, but the monetary gains come secondary to the event’s true cause. 

“I don’t expect this concert series to be a huge money-making venture,” Bacon said, “the main focus of the series is to get Montana skateboarders together and get them to venture out to other parks.” 

Bacon said the MSA chose St. Ignatius as a venue for its inaugural skate series for several reasons: MSA was heavily involved in the design, funding and planning; it’s close to home; and “it’s a really fun skate park.”

Evidencing this claim, Nerby said with the help of social media, the park has received visitors from all over the world including Scandinavia, Canada and South America. Pearl Jam bassist and Missoula resident Jeff Ament was a large contributor and often stops by for a quick skate session, and Nerby says these are only the guests she’s aware of. 

In addition, Nerby believes the park does a lot for tourism and business in St. Ignatius by drawing skaters and their friends and family to the area. 

Some time ago, the Independent Skate Team visited Missoula for a demo and signing. Nerby said that for many kids in the valley, something as simple as going down to Missoula to watch a skate team perform isn’t possible due to a lack of resources. The kids had missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

However, having heard about a great skatepark in St. Ignatius, the Independent Team took an hour trip north to see what it was all about. 

“Those kids got showered with shoes and skateboards; they got pictures; it was amazing,” Nerby said. “Those kids will never forget that their whole life. For a kid growing up in poverty in rural Montana, that’s a pretty big deal. And that’s what it’s all about.”

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