2nd Annual Arbor Day Festival in Columbia Falls

By Beacon Staff

This year’s 2nd Annual Columbia Falls Arbor Day Festival on May 3rd brings a Native American spirit to the celebration of the tree-planting holiday. The event will feature Native American artists and singers, as well as arts and crafts vendors, food, and fun.

A highlight of the day will be traditional music and singing performances by The Morans, a Native American singing troupe from Columbia Falls, as well as Jonathan Jenkins, a remarkable local guitarist, song-writer and singer. In addition, the keynote speaker for the Festival will be Monte Yellowbird, an artist and nationally known cultural education consultant of the Arikara and Hidatsa Nation, who will share stories from his culture and how it relates to Arbor Day and the First Nation educational workshops that he presents in Montana schools and colleges.

For this year’s celebration, which is scheduled from noon until 3:30 on Saturday in the Glacier Bank parking lot, organizers have invited several arts and crafts vendors to display their merchandise. Complimenting these merchants will be several food vendors, including Montana Coffee Traders and Cimarron Catering. For the kids, Laff-It-Up Inflatables will have several bouncers on site, Woodsy the Owl will entertain, and there will be face painting, recycling activities, and other fun

The centerpiece of the event will be a special tree planting – two 15 foot evergreens and one large Red Maple will be placed in the green area along Highway 2 in front of Glacier Bank. The two evergreens were donated by Charlene Launer in memory of Charlie Fisher and her parents Arlene and Carl Launer. Dave Connor of Columbia Nursery donated the Maple; and his assistant Alec DuMay will help in the planting. Don Barnhart of B & F Excavating and Roger Goodwin are donating the equipment needed to transplant all three trees.

The Arbor Day Festival this year will be the culmination of a week of activities centered on the celebration. Mr. Yellow Bird will be in town all week, and will hold several art workshops with students at the elementary, junior high and high school. He will also be holding a art workshop and evening lecture at FVCC on Tuesday April the 29th. His lodgings for the week were generously donated by Meadow Lake Resorts.

On Friday, May 2nd Arrowhead Fine Art and Framing on Nucleus Avenue will host a special reception and fund raising auction featuring Mr. Yellow Bird. The public is invited to meet the artist and listen to his inspirational presentation.

According to Barb Jenkins, who has organized both of the Arbor Day Festivals along with Laura Bell of Laff- it -Up Inflatables, and is the driving force behind the effort to build a Community Tree program for Columbia Falls, “the art reception is an opportunity to say thank you to the folks who have so generously supported our efforts, both the Arbor Day Festival, and as we have worked to establish a tree board in Columbia Falls and pursue designation as a Tree City USA” community.

The art reception is scheduled from 5:00pm to 8:30 on Friday, with music, hors d’oeuvres, spirits and tea in the vibrant and unique gallery. Original fine art pieces and signed prints by Mr. Yellow Bird, George Bland, Mark Ogle and other fine artists will be auctioned, beginning at 7:00pm. Those interested in attending the reception are requested to R.S.V.P. to Terri Baker at 892-3463 by April 25th. Money raised from the auction will support efforts to obtain a Tree City, USA designation for Columbia Falls.

A Tree City is a community recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for managing its community forest well. Becoming a Tree City will allow Columbia Falls to apply for grants and assistance from the Foundation to forward the efforts to foster a more dynamic urban forest in the community.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, thanks to a resolution proposed by Nebraska City resident J. Sterling Morton who urged people to “set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” Today, Arbor Day is observed in all 50 states and in many countries around the world. The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org.

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