This past Saturday I headed to White Sulphur Springs, MT for the 2nd annual Red Ants Pants Music Festival. Last year I had an obligation that took me in another direction so I missed the first one.
I was determined to see certain headliners this year and I knew I could only devote one day to the festival. And a long day it was!
First of all, the drive from Great Falls to White Sulphur Springs is a trip in itself. In fact, it’s one of our 10 Great Motorcycles Rides and it is also one our our great scenic routes over the Kings Hill Scenic Byway. US Hwy 89 travels over Kings Hill Pass – a bit of trivia – this is the highest year-round maintained mountain pass in Montana. Showdown Ski Area sits at the top of Kings Hill and traffic flows from both directions all year.
Back to the festival – local organizer Sarah Calhoun is the founder of Red Ants Pants, a workwear pant made specifically for women. The festival is her brainchild and, although she is quick to credit many others, the bulk of the responsibility is hers. She has established the Red Ants Pants Foundation with goals of developing leadership roles for women, preserving working family farms and ranches and enriching and promoting rural communities. All proceeds from the music festival go to the Red Ants Pants Foundation.
The festival is held in a cow pasture 3 paved miles out of White Sulphur Springs on the Jackson Ranch. The entertainers I heard all made comments about what a beautiful location they had for performing – a cow pasture surrounded by the Crazy Mountains, Castle Mountains and the Big Belt Mountains.
It was hot when we arrived – let me say that again – it was very hot!
Fortunately I had sunscreen, a long sleeved shirt, a wide brimmed hat and an umbrella. Some folks had put up tent-style awnings, some had chairs with a small awning for sun protection, others were out to get a suntan. I was pleased to see so many families attending, parents dancing with little tykes and kids enjoying Central Montana’s outdoors.
Saturday’s performer line-up included Ben Bullington, Jeanne Jolly, Billy Joe Shaver, Hayes Carll, Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris. Billy Joe Shaver really got the crowd going and I liked Hayes Carll too although I wasn’t sure I had heard their music. OK, I do live in a vacuum sometimes!
Rodney Crowell (who used to play in Emmylou Harris’ band) and Emmylou Harris were my favorites. I could have listened to them for hours and the crowd didn’t want to let them go.
Weather played a few trump cards a couple of times with some lightning, thunder, wind and rain which sent the crowd to their vehicles. After each little weather outburst passed, people poured out of their vehicles and went back to the stage area.
Vendors touted craft items, unique foods and beverages – something to interest everyone.
As the day turned into evening, the most beautiful sunset changed Central Montana’s sky about ten shades of pinks and oranges. Festival attendees who had been dancing, clapping and slurping adult beverages got out their cameras and cell phones and started taking photos.
White Sulphur Springs and Central Montana held their reputation as having jaw dropping, gorgeous and photo-worthy scenery.
Simply stated, it was the most amazing time and next year’s festival dates are already on my calendar. Be sure to make note that July 25-28, 2013 will be another opportunity to experience Montana in all her greatness and to hear some good tunes.