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Homesteader Days bring big crowds to small town

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HOT SPRINGS – Hundreds of people came together for Homesteader Days this past weekend to celebrate the homesteaders who started plowing up the sod in the area back in the 1890s. The annual event, now in its 72nd year, is one of Northwestern Montana’s not-to-be-missed signature events. 

“The whole town and surrounding areas are happy to come out and enjoy a normal Homesteaders Days,” said Leslee Smith, Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and Homesteader Days committee member in reference to last year’s event being mostly canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Homesteader Days is a reminder of everything we can accomplish with persistence, hard work, and community support,” said one event organizer.

Friday kicked off the celebration with a wide variety of arts, crafts and food booths that lined both sides of Main Street. On Saturday, folks enjoyed a car show, horseshoe tournament, rummage sale, kiddy parade and a yellow-ducky race with prizes. Music filled Main Street during the event with live performances from Wailing Aaron Jennings, Craig Barton, Bob Wire, Free Wheelin, Barnaby Wilde and Highway 93. The LaRue Hot Springs Museum offered day-long historical exhibits, and an evening rodeo and street dance put the finishing touches on the day.

On Sunday afternoon, a crowd gathered on Main Street for the annual Grand Parade. This year’s parade included a large monster truck and bikers from the Missoula chapter of Bikers Against Bullies.

One Bikers Against Bullies member said he was a first-timer to both Hot Springs and riding his bike in a parade. He traveled up from the Bitterroot Valley in support of his biker brothers. 

“This area is excellent,” he said. “The people are happy and smiling.”

The day culminated in a rodeo hosted by Brash Rodeo, which featured mini bull riding, barrel racers, chute dogging, saddle bronc, team roping and bull riding performances. Rodeo fans were also entertained by the crazy antics of a calf-bloomer race.

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