Illustrated travel guide to the First Annual Flathead Winter Arts and Culture Festival
You might think the Flathead’s art scene is chasing the naturally occurring gobsmacking beauty that surrounds us, or that our culture is deeply rooted in the character and junior high humor of truck nuts. But we’re here to take your low expectations to highbrow heights with the First Annual Flathead Winter Arts and Culture Festival, sure to sparkle like the trees above the inversion.
Written by David Steele. Illustrated by Collin Hamman
Super 1 Snowbank Sculpture Park
Pristine snow sculptures are so blasé. Any town in Switzerland or Canada can display gleaming structures hand-carved to perfection. To really set our inaugural festival apart, organizers opted for a, ahem, grittier take: the plow piles at Super 1. What might the world’s best winter sculptors conjure around the mingled layers of dirt, empty drink cups, and lost beanies? How will they adapt their designs for that miserable mid-February week of rain? Who will be the first to say, “This is just too disgusting, I can’t work under these conditions”? Get your season pass to the Sculpture Park and watch the drama unfold.
Under the Grey Sky
Is your summer festival hat lonely, or still covered in the dirt from a field near Edgewood? Here’s a chance to dust it off for a few days of, well, not quite as much fun as you had in July. Under the Grey Sky is a winter concert series of contemporary melancholy, tuned to the same minor key as your seasonal affective disorder. Careful which puffy you bring, as bonfire embers might put holes in it. But the heat will really ratchet up when you see Orville Peck in fringed ski goggles.
Bigfork Winter Playhouse
Ever find yourself sweaty and squirming in the grass during a hot summer evening of theater? The Bigfork Winter Playhouse is guaranteed to never replicate that feeling. A full season of wintery delights awaits foul weather theater-goers, including “Death of a Snowman,” “Cat on a Slippery, Icy Roof,” and for the frosty Shakespeareans amongst us, “The Taming of The Ice Screw.” VIP packages include toe warmers, hand warmers, nose warmers, and snow thrones carved by the professional sculptors who couldn’t take one more day in the Super 1 parking lot.
“Under the Grey Sky is a winter concert series of contemporary melancholy, tuned to the same minor key as your seasonal affective disorder.”
Pee Penmanship/ Penwomanship
Are you known for leaving your mark, with a flourish? Can you sign your signature in the snowbanks? Sign up for our Pee Penmanship competition! Running concurrently with the insufficient porta-potties at Under the Grey Sky, this contest calls to the 5-year-old in each of us. Divisions by gender and age keep things fair; the word on the street is that judges will give bonus points for serif fonts. (May be postponed in the event of midwinter rain.)
Pairs Ice Dancing on Russ’s Street
Ice dance joined the World Figure Skating Championships in 1952 and the Olympic Games as a medal sport in 1976. In 2022, this lively whirl of costume and gleaming blades comes to our favorite local skating rink: Russ’s Street on Big Mountain. Outdoor ice dance is rare, as it’s difficult to maintain a sufficiently icy surface in the natural world, but fortunately our local ski hill comes through. The long, slippery trip back to Chair 1 offers plenty of time to watch the pros in action while you contemplate why you didn’t just stay on the backside for another run. Be sure to alert contestants before you try to pass—they’ll be docked points if their twizzles fizzle to avoid a collizzle.
What a shame to bling out your new boat and truck (which only cost as much as a 2012 house) only to use them both just for the summer. The Snowbank Wakesurfing Open is the perfect way to pull your investments from storage and parade them through town. Confused? Picture yourself in your truck, pulling your sweet boat full of bronzing folks (or is that just full-body frostbite?) and a thumping sound system, all of that pulling a wakesurfer on that median of snow that shows up midroad in downtown. Snowbank Wakesurfing hasn’t been “tried” so much as “imagined,” but we believe in you—go get ’em. We’ll be standing back and watching. Standing waaay back.
Illustrations: Colin Hammond
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