While the main action will be south of Havre at the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation during the annual powwow, celebrated this year as its 50th anniversary, plenty of action will be happening with the local economy as well.
The Rocky Boy Pow-wow is set to open Thursday night and run through Sunday.
The Rocky Boy Pow-wow brings hundreds, if not more, people to participate and watch the cultural competitions and activities such as dancing, games and traditional drumming and singing, from across the United States and Canada. While in the area, many of those visitors also spend time and money in local businesses, restaurants and hotels.
“(It) has a very huge, positive impact on the community, ” said Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
The annual event gives local residents and visitors a chance to watch traditional Native American cultural events ranging from dancing in full traditional regalia to the stick game, where teams try to outguess each other as to where markers are being held, along with locally cooked food, a high level of hospitality and other offerings.
And the Rocky Boy event is one of the top-rated in the nation, often bringing competitors and visitors from coast to coast and from north of the border.
The celebration has a major impact on local businesses off the reservations, starting with people reserving rooms in local hotels months in advance; this happens almost as soon as the powwow dates are announced.
The rooms fill quickly, with hotel and motel spaces hard to find on the Hi-Line during powwow week.
Jill Gideon, manager of the El Toro Inn and Motel, said calls for reservations started coming probably in March.
Were always full during powwow week …, ” she said. “We get them from Canada to Arizona. ”
Local eating spots also see a major impact.
Pegi Browning, manager of the Havre 4 Bs, said the number of people eating there during powwow has dropped as more and more concessions are offered at the powwow itself, but the eatery still sees more customers.
“We do see an increase, ” Browning said. “Not what we used to see. ”
Other local businesses see the impact too, including the Ben Franklin craft store in Havre.
“They buy lots of fabric and ribbon and beads and jewelry findings, ” said Sherry Obrecht, assistant manager at the store.
Many of the shoppers are from out of state and from Canada, she said, adding that, with the 50th anniversary celebration, she expects even more.
“It’s been good, and this year should be even better, ” Obrecht said.
And many other stores also see the increase.
“We do see a big jump in business, ” said Geno Martinez, assistant manager at the Havre Walmart.
Robert Davis, manager of the Havre Kmart, said his store also sees a business increase, including many extra sales in items like chairs, coolers and air mattresses.
“We see about a 10, 15 percent increase from people coming through town, ” Davis said.
And, Vandeberg said, it is an added attraction for the area. Many people from the Hi-Line go the to powwow occasionally or regularly, but visitors to the area also ask about the event.
“It’s great for us to tell tourists it’s going on …, ” she said, adding, “We have a lot of folks who come in here who are traveling through and want to know the schedule and so on. ”