As many as 300 people will be in Havre for the better part of a week starting Sunday for the 55th Montana Tavern Association's convention and trade show.
"Havre has been great to us, and we are planning a great convention," said Bob Anderson, executive director of the Helena-based organization.
Havre won the right to host the convention two years ago in a bidding process, Anderson said, adding that 1988 was the last time the association held its convention in Havre.
People should start coming into town on Sunday, and most will leave by Thursday, he said. "It should mean quite a bit to the economy in Havre," he said. Hotels and restaurants will benefit.
The convention will include a combination of social events and official business, he said.
Special activities are planned throughout town, and free transportation will be offered to and from every event, he said.
Meals will be served at many local businesses, he said, and at Montana State University-Northern.
On Sunday, leisure-time activities for convention-goers include tours of Havre Beneath the Streets, Fort Assinniboine and the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump; a golf tournament; and numerous social events.
Many top state officials will be at business meetings, talking about the state of the tavern business, Anderson said.
Issues on the minds of tavern owners will include proposed tougher anti-drunken driving laws and anti-smoking regulations at casinos, he said.
One of the highlights for many members will be Tuesday's trade show at the Havre Ice Dome, he said.
Items specific to the tavern industry — such as gaming equipment — and to businesses in general will be on display, he said.
Anderson called his members "your typical small-business people."
Like others they have have been hit hard by the economy, and they are looking forward to the Havre convention "because for many members this is the only vacation they have."
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