Fort Benton celebrates 175th Birthday at the Summer Celebration
June 30, 2021
It was a hot weekend for last weekend's Summer Celebration in Fort Benton, which was a total success after its cancellation last summer due to the Covid lockdowns. This year's theme was Fort Benton's 175th Birthday, commemorating the founding of the town in 1846. Turnout was strong this year, despite last year's cancellation and ongoing concerns about the spread of Covid.
I spoke with Dianne Jones, who helps out with the fundraising for park repairs and maintenance at the Pool Repair Committee and EMT fundraiser breakfast. "My part is pool repair. I help the city with anything in the park that maybe comes up, and they can't afford it. It is down to me and one other girl, so I pulled in Fort Benton's Memorial Ambulance Crew, and we've been doing this about four years. We did excellent. We were supposed to go to 10:00, and we made it to 9:30. For us, this was a good Saturday morning."
The parade was well attended, with one local commenting to me that it was the best parade he'd seen in recent memory. Lines at food vendors were long and people seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to gather as a community once more.
Big Sandy resident, Rebecca Wiehe, went with her family Saturday evening to enjoy the fireworks display. She commented on the how wonderful it was to see people out enjoying community together again: "We went down at 8 in the evening, played at the park, found our fireworks spot, ate fry bread and sat and waited. The fireworks were amazing, and it was wonderful to see so many people!"
Another Big Sandy resident, Diana Keene, echoed the sentiment in her comments on
the weekend celebration: "The atmosphere is like a community party. We saw neighbors from Loma, friends from Big Sandy, church friends from Fort Benton, friends from out of state who came back to visit, and people who live nearby, but we don't get to see often. There was always someone to say "hi" to and catch up with. We came for the parade, watched my mom on her 50th class reunion float, went to Art in the Park, did the water balls, went swimming at the pool, ate fantastic food, listened to the musicians downtown, walked the River's Edge Trail and waited for the fireworks. The fireworks were stunning, as always!" Diana also commented on the strong turnout for this year's gathering as compared with previous years: "I noticed more people at the fireworks than I ever remember seeing at Summer Celebration. The levee was packed on both sides of the trail- usually only one side is packed. Some people found their spot for the fireworks right after the parade. Summer Celebration is a family favorite,and we can't wait for next year."
One local business, on their Facebook page, described the weekend as "record-breaking" with "more traffic than we've ever seen."
It seems to me as though the community was more than ready to spend time together again after living so far apart over the last 18 months. One of the best things about living in our little corner of the world is the community that surrounds us. It is a blessing to have an opportunity to get together again.