Small-town life at its best will be celebrated this weekend as thousands of people from up and down the Hi-Line gather in Havre for Festival Days.
Though the spirit of Festival Days remains as it has been for 31 years, there will be some new events to take part in. It is special this year that Montana State University-Northern is holding its homecoming activities in conjunction with Festival Days. Many alums will be in town to recall their years at Northern and the good times they had during past Festival Days.
While many small towns have festivities such as this, Festivals Days is something that shows the uniqueness of Havre.
That special spirit started last weekend when hundreds of people joined in the effort to clean the streets and sidewalks of the summer-full of trash and clutter. Civic groups, youth groups and social organizations joined in the effort, coordinated by the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
Havre Pride has been going on for more than two decades, and it seems to grow every year. Instead of just picking up trash, the effort has turned into a recycling drive. Recycle Hi-Line and Walmart joined in this year's effort.
Havre Pride is held in the spring and the fall (one weekend before Festival Days) every year. Now organizers are looking at the possibility of holding it in mid-winter to give people some place to dump that Christmastime trash — gift wrapping, decorations and perhaps trees.
That sounds like a lot of planning and work, but it would be well worth the effort.
When people come to town this weekend, they will see a cleaner city because of the effort.
They then will have a weekend of entertainment opportunities, ranging from an Elton John Tribute concert to a 24-hour softball tourney to a soapbox derby. There will be a Northern football game and several churches will have special services.
The highlight of the weekend, of course, is the massive parade that draws thousands of participants and thousands of observers.
It is a celebration of what Havre is all about. Those who have never attended the parade should be sure to do so. To ensure a good seat, get out there long before the 10 a.m. starting time.
The community-wide effort to put on Festival Days is as impressive as the activities themselves.
The Havre Area Chamber of Commerce coordinates the activities, promotes the events and runs the parade. Veteran Festival Days organizer Debbie Vandeberg, the Chamber's executive director, will be working all kinds of hours putting the final touches on the parade this weekend.
But each of the individual events is run by its own sponsor.
Some of the activities have been going on for decades and have become a tradition. Some people have been involved in the activities for several decades, before organizers of the Empty Tea Pot sale, sponsored by Northern students, were born.
It's good to see the wide variety of age groups taking part in the festivities.
If you haven't taken part in Festival Days activities, you are in the minority in Havre. Join in the fun this year.
And when you see your neighbors volunteering for work — be they flipping pancakes, organizing Cub Scouts before the parade, lining up events at the soapbox derby or taking part in special church services — thank them and pat them on the back.
The work is a lot of fun, but it's still work.
Without all of this never-ending volunteerism, Festival Days would be impossible.