Havre Daily News
Havreites on Friday will roll dice and sip martinis in support of a proposed visitor and cultural center.
Money raised at the event, which begins at the Duck Inn Olympic Room with cocktails at 6 p.m., will pay for engineering and planning for the building.
The gala will include dice rolls for a $25,000 voucher for a vehicle from Tilleman Motor Co., Havre Ford or North Star Dodge; poker tables with a grand prize of a $1,100 travel voucher from Lelock Travel; and a raffle for a set of Swiss Tungsten watches provided by J M Donovan Designs in Fine Jewelry. An original oil painting by nationally known artist Carolyn Anderson will be one of the door prizes. Balloons filled with prizes like passes to local attractions and lottery tickets will be available for purchase at the event.
The committee working on the cultural and visitor center has secured $25,000 in state Community Transportation Enhancement Program funds to be used on the preliminary engineering and planning of the structure. Preliminary engineering will determine what the building will look like and the cost to build and operate it.
The planned center would house the Great Northern Fair Board and fair manager, the Montana Actors' Theatre and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce and also could serve as the starting point for tours of the Wahkpa Chu'gn buffalo jump, Bear Paw Battlefield and Fort Assinniboine. The operations and maintenance costs will be the responsibility of the occupants of the center. The group now needs to raise the rest of the funds to cover the engineering, which will be about $15,000, and also money to be used on marketing of the complex.
The center is expected to cost about $2.8 million. Project organizers are seeking funding for the building's construction and hope to have it completed as early as 2009.
Silent and live auctions of donated items will include artwork by local artists and assorted gift baskets. Also, MAT members will cook dinner at the highest bidder's home and put on a private showing of a winner-selected play.
Janna Faber, chief operations officer for Duck Inn Inc., said many “fun booze baskets” will be auctioned.
“This benefit is perfect for those who like art and alcohol,” Faber said with a laugh.
Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m.
A dinner buffet will include beef, chicken and shrimp supplied by the Duck Inn.
MAT vice president Grant Olson will be the guest bartender of a martini bar. Olson will be mixing up specialty drinks like white chocolate martinis, apple-tinis and “original James Bond martinis.” He said he will be open to suggestions of new concoctions as well.
A full bar also will be available.
Local musicians Mary Stevens, Jan Wiberg and Marge Holt will provide the evening's soundtrack.
Presale tickets are available for $50 per person at Creative Leisure, Gary & Leo's IGA and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce. Evening attire is suggested.
Bear Paw Development Corp. planning director Craig Erickson said the planned location of the center is at the Great Northern Fairgrounds on 19th Avenue West and U.S. Highway 2.
The center would also have interpretive elements on the culture and history of the Hi-Line.
“It will benefit and advertise all of north-central Montana,” Erickson said.
A new center would help reel in some of the half-million tourists who drive through the area on U.S. Highway 2 each year to stop and check out local attractions. The increased attendance of museums and other tour spots would mean a better economy for all surrounding businesses, Erickson said. The Havre area sees about $12 million in tourist dollars each year, he said.
“The center will help educate and encourage people to spend more time in the area - not just tourists but also local residents,” Erickson said.
“It's a win-win-win-win-win situation.”
He said the building will be “much more than an office ... an economic development project for the entire region.”
Chamber tourism com-
mittee co-chair Gary Wilson said the center also would provide much needed bus and motor home parking.
Olson said the groups working on the building together will all benefit from the project. If someone goes to the center to see the play, they could see a display for another local attraction and vice versa.
The ideas for the MAT performance space include a layout where the configuration of the room can be changed.
“You could have a rock concert one night and a full-scale musical the next day,” Olson said.
He said the space could grab traveling acts who might otherwise pass through town.
Erickson said as soon as the group gets the funding it will “hit the ground running.”
The gala's planners said Friday's event will be the first in a series of fundraisers.