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Havre organizer aims high for Fourth of July


A Havre businessman is planning a Fourth of July weekend celebration in Havre intended to draw thousands of visitors from all over Montana and beyond.

The two-day event will feature a "bull-o-rama" bull riding competition, a battle of the bands, a street dance, a parade, a "Herbie Derbie" demolition derby for small cars, a community feed, and a two-day powwow, event promoter Bruce Grant said last week. There will be a parade downtown on Friday morning and a fireworks display put on by the Havre Jaycees on Friday night at the Hill County Fairgrounds. There will also be craft and food booths at the fairgrounds and a go-cart track for children in the Holiday Village parking lot the entire week of the Fourth, he said.

"We want it to be a big event for everybody in town to have a good time," Grant said last week. "It gives a reason for Havre people not to leave (town)" on the Fourth, he added. Grant said he hopes to compete with the Fourth of July celebration in Arlee, which draws thousands of people annually.

Grant said he decided to have the event both to pro-

mote his business and because Havre does not have an established annual Fourth of July celebration.

The Fort Belknap native runs The Herd Bull, an American Indian arts store in Havre. In 1997-98, he was a powwow chief for

the Mission Canyon Summer Powwow in Hays, and he has served on various powwow committees for the past 10 years, including the committees of the Hays powwow and the powwow at Montana State University-Northern in Havre.

Grant said he began planning the event about six months ago, and that he started to advertise it by word of mouth to Indian tribes across several states and has spoken with between 50 and 75 businesses across the state, but has yet to advertise formally.

"All we're waiting for is the liability insurance," Grant said. "That's the only thing that is holding me back or I would be advertising."

Grant said he is working with Northern Insurance Agency of Havre on liability insurance for spectators, but that it is not yet finalized. He said he expects it will cost less than $1,000.

Northern Insurance Agency owner Clarke Streeper said this morning that he has sent the insurance application to a company in Kalispell that handles special events, and expects to hear back from them next week at the latest.

"I anticipate no problem," Streeper said this morning. "I hope to know some time this week." He said the insurance would be for spectators for the bull-o-rama, the powwow, and the go-cart track. The demolition derby and the fireworks show will be insured by the groups putting them on, he said.

Havre Mayor Bob Rice said today that the Havre City Council will need to approve shutting off the street for the street dance. He said he would present that to the council as soon as Grant brings him proof of insurance. The city's insurance will not cover the event, he said.

"I hope that he hasn't bit off more than he can chew," Rice said. "If it happens, it's a great thing because we really don't have anything going on on the fourth" in Havre.

Hill County Commissioner Doug Kaercher said this morning Grant had brought the plans before the county commission on April 28, and that they had referred him to the Great Northern Fair Board because Grant wanted to use the fair grounds. He said there were "quite a few stipulations" Grant will have to meet for the event.

"I think if it all comes off it will be a wonderful thing for Havre," Kaercher said.

Grant met with the fair board and the Havre Jaycees on May 20. At that meeting, he said, the board gave permission for the event and discussed bringing in a grandstand for seating, but would not underwrite the liability insurance.

"We don't need to approve anything as long as (Grant) meets the insurance requirements and the rental requirements for the buildings," said Great Northern Fair Board president Jerry Hanson. He said at the meeting they had sent Grant to talk to Hill County Fairgrounds manager Tim Solomon to make sure the requirements were met. Solomon could not be reached for comment this morning.

Grant said he is asking local businesses to each sponsor an event at the powwow. He said that businesses are donating some prizes for the rodeo, but that he believes the rest of the weekend will pay for itself with admission fees.

"My idea with this is it would pay for itself, because if everyone pitches in to do this, we will get tenfold back, on account of all the people coming through here," Grant said.

He said people will probably be charged admission for some of the events.

The powwow, bull riding rodeo, and demolition derby will take place at the fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday, Grant said. The exact schedule of those events is not yet certain. The street dance will be held on Third Avenue between First and Second streets on Friday evening, and the battle of the bands, open to both rock and country bands, will be held Saturday night, probably at the fairgrounds. The community feed will be on Saturday afternoon.

Havre Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Debbie Vandeberg said the chamber will not be involved with planning the event because of the number of other events the chamber is working with, but she said she supports Grant's efforts.

"We've never had any major events on the Fourth of July weekend. So anything that's held (on the weekend) can only generate traffic and people." Vandeberg said Grant came to her two weeks ago to share his plans with the chamber.

She said she did not have any concerns about the event. "They've got a huge undertaking," she added.

Grant said he hopes to continue the event over four years, and that it will help make Havre a stop on the itinerary of Easterners coming to Montana for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial over the next three summers.

"It'll keep getting bigger and better," he said, adding that any profit made on this year's celebration will go toward paying for next year's.


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