Vol. 4 | Fall 2019

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@ T H E L O C A L H E L E N A @ T H E L O C A L H E L E N A


U.S. News & World Report has named Carroll College the “Best in the West” for nine years in a row. This year’s accolades continue a strong tradition of excellence that has made Carroll College the Catholic College of the American West . A Carroll College education is defined by one-on-one attention in a hands-on learning environment that engages the mind and the heart. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, faculty know students by name and are dedicated to their success as evidenced by our outcomes: Best in the West 9 Years Running f

• Highest graduation rate in a 5 state region • 85% acceptance rate to medical and dental school over the past 15 years • In 2019, Carroll produced a Fulbright winner, a Truman finalist and many other prestigious scholarship winners

• Highest retention rate in the state of Montana • Graduates have the highest 10-year post graduation salaries of any Montana college or university • Three students scored in the top 7% out of 25,000 teams worldwide in the 2019 World Mathematical Contest in Modeling

And we’re not done. Construction is underway on expanding nursing labs and our new Anthrozoology building , and both projects will be ready for students next fall. Additionally, we’re accepting applicants soon for our new accelerated nursing program . We invite you to learn more by contacting us at admission@carroll.edu .

Visit campus and apply for free.


4 . 5 . 7 . 8 . HO L D P L E A S E CON T R I B U TO R S F R OM S C R AT C H Feature: Main Street Eats CON T E N T S THE LOCAL VOL . 4 | FALL 2019 THANK YOU TO OUR MEDIA SPONSORS ! E AT

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Feature: Hokkaido Ramen & Izakaya 1 5 . D R I N K 1 6 . B E H I N D T H E C U R TA I N Feature: Fire Tower Coffee House 1 9 . CO C K TA I L CO L UMN 2 0 . DOWN TOWN H A P P Y H O U R 2 3 . P L AY 2 4 . O P E N S PA C E S Feature: Montana Backcountry Yurts 2 8 . A N E N C H A N T I N G R I D E Feature: Great Northern Carousel 3 2 . T H E A R T S A R E F O R E V E R YON E Feature: The Myrna Loy 3 5 . H E L E N A S Y M P H ON Y Feature: Helena Symphony 3 9 . S HO P 4 0 . H O L I DAY G I F T G U I D E 4 2 . COM F O R T & S T Y L E Feature: The Base Camp 4 6 . L I V E 4 7 . F E E L S L I K E H OM E Content Sponsor: Uncommon Ground 5 5 . WO R K 5 6 . WO R K W I T H U S 6 1 . L E A R N 6 2 . S OA R Feature: Helena College University of Montana 6 5 . LO C A L R E A D S 6 7 . G I V E 6 8 . S PA R K L E O F H O P E Feature: Festival of Trees 7 0 . T H E H E A L I N G P OW E R O F A R T Content Sponsor: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana 7 3 . S TAY 7 4 . H U S T L E , H A R DWO R K , A N D H O S P I TA L I T Y Feature: Lamplighter Cabins & Suites


A COLLAB CREAT IVE PUBL ICAT ION (previously A & M Marketing)


PRINTED LOCALLY BY Allegra Marketing | Print | Mail www.allegrahelena.com COVER PHOTO BY EMILY CLEWIS with Emily Irene Photo www.emilyirenephoto.com

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Hold please. D E A R H E L E N A , We owe you a thank you note. A love letter. A statement of intent. A farewell bid. As a team, we’re hitting pause to take a collective breath to re-envision this dream. We want to be sure we’re offering what Helena needs and that we’re doing it well. We want to take time to reflect and go forward with intention and clarity. So, here is Volume 4. We hope you love it. We hope you’re inspired by it. We hope you savor the words and images, knowing this will be the last issue printed for the time being. Call it what you will: a hiatus, a fork in the road, a time of reflection. We're not sure what's next but our value and appreciation of the Helena lifestyle will always remain. Because we are more in love with this place than ever, we’ll see you around town.


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Contributors TO T H E LO C A L

CLAIRE LARSON // Lead Writer & Copy Editor

EMILY CLEWIS // Lead Photographer

CASSIE PARR // Co-Creator

ALLIE REYNOLDS // Owner & Creative Director

ANNA STRANGE // Advertising & Outreach


BROOKE BOONE MILLER // Podcast Host & Writer

MEG CRANE // Writer & Assistant Copy Editor




KEELY DAMARA // Writer & Photographer

JASON O'NEIL // Photographer

GINNY EMERY // Photographer




KEVIN LEAGUE // Photographer

BRIAN THRELKELD // Photographer


DILLON JENKINS // Videographer

JOSHUA JOHNSON // Videographer

WO R K W I T H U S . Our team would love to help you with your creative project. Learn more on page 56. Contact us: info@thelocal-helena.com

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Enjoy the warm hospitality, the hearty flavors, and the perfect recipe for how an Italian meal is meant to be enjoyed.

22 N. Last Chance Gulch | ristorantebellaroma.com | 406-437-4497 on the walking mall in the Double Tree by Hilton hotel Reservations highly recommended Lunch: Monday - Saturday | Dinner: 7 nights a week



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From Scratch.


MA I N S T R E E T E AT S 4 W Main Street, East Helena, MT A woman with silver hair and a smile for every person who walks through the door zips around the small dining room of Main Street Eats on a Friday afternoon, greeting customers, bussing tables and settling checks at the front counter. When asked if she has a few moments to sit down to talk about her thriving business in East Helena’s historic core, Annie Posey pauses for a brief moment. “I don’t sit down much,” she says. “But I’ll try.” For the past five years, Main Street Eats has been serving up delicious breakfast and lunch food on East Helena’s historic Main Street. Her husband, Dave Posey, works in the kitchen and she waits tables in the front of house. They serve what she calls, “clean

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food.” You won’t find a fryer in the kitchen and everything is made from scratch. “It’s all homemade, all fresh food — nothing has ever been in a bag or a box,” she says. “It’s just real food, cooked fresh every day to order.” Their menu is vast, and contains everything from French toast made from fresh baked cinnamon rolls to lighter options like the “Bad Hunter” — a breakfast skillet without meat. You’ll find tongue- in-cheek names for items sprinkled throughout the menu, and a large variety of healthy options you don’t often see on a café menu. That’s something Dave Posey, co-owner and head chef, is proud of. “After being on Main Street for 20 years, I wanted to throw some healthier options out there and a little more variety than what they’re used to out here,” he says. Dave and Annie Posey have been married for 27 years. They met and married in Las Vegas, and later moved to Montana to start a family where they had roots. Annie’s mother was cheer queen of Helena High School in 1948. When the couple moved to East Helena 25 years ago, Dave Posey says, they were the youngest people on Main Street. Annie laughs, adding, “not anymore.” “With the smelter closing, there was a turnaround in property prices and a lot of new faces,” says Dave Posey. “Even though we have a lot of options — where you can do gluten-free or vegetarian or low carb, this and that — biscuits and gravy are still our biggest seller.” On this particular Friday, the restaurant sold completely out of gravy. “It’s not uncommon to turn 200 people in this tiny little dining room in seven hours,” Annie Posey says. Beyond quality food, Dave Posey attributes their success to what their establishment provides to the East Helena community. It’s a regular meeting place for friends, family and neighbors, a place to connect with one another. As Dave puts it — it’s an extended family. “We see a lot of pictures on social media, but I don’t see a lot of people in here sitting on their phones — they’re talking,” says Dave Posey. “Watching babies grow up, from inside mommy until they’re

COME SEE US AT 715 Getchell St, Helena Thursdays and Fridays 11 AM - 2 PM



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in here today, walking around with a ball cap on backwards and sunglasses — it’s pretty amazing.” In addition to Main Street Eats, the couple is breathing new life into the historic core of East Helena with two other ventures: Lucky’s Main Street Mercantile and the soon-to-be-open burger joint, Blackjack Burger Company. The gourmet burger restaurant will serve half-pound burgers, fries, poutine, salads, open face chili burgers and more. Long-timers may recognize a few of the burgers on the menu from one the restauranteurs’ former establishments, 14 West, a restaurant once located in what is now the Fraternal Order of the Eagles on Main Street. “We’re bringing a lot of our signature burgers from 20 years ago back,” says Annie. Lucky’s Main Street Mercantile, which the Posey’s reopened this past spring, is housed in the oldest building on Main Street, says Annie Posey. From the early 1900’s through 1980, the building was a soda fountain and candy store. The Posey’s wanted to bring that nostalgia and family-centered business back to Main Street for new generations to enjoy with their families. Between the three establishments, says Annie Posey, you can enjoy a full day on Main Street — eat breakfast and lunch at Main Street Eats, dessert at Lucky’s and dinner at Blackjack Burger Company — and visit the other East Helena shops in between. Dave Posey is excited about the growth out toward Canyon Ferry Lake, and hopes that it will help bring East Helena’s historic Main Street back to life. “I think we’re going to see East Helena as a new hub, with the new growth out toward the lake,” says Dave. “We want to see East Helena turn back into a Main Street environment.” As for their part, the Posey’s are happy to contribute to Main Street by filling empty stomachs and creating spaces for the community to come together. “It’s awesome — it’s just us,” says Annie Posey. “It’s our heart." n

Benny’s Bistro is a small, farm to table restaurant in the heart of Downtown Helena, Montana. We rely on local farmers to supply us with Montana grown proteins and as much produce as our seasons allow. We source our ingredients directly from the farmers who we have worked to develop personal relationships with.

108 E 6th Ave, Helena (406) 443-0105

Monday - Saturday 11:00am - 3:00pm Wednesday - Saturday 5:00pm - 9:00pm

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RUSSELL STREET Bridge Pizza Housemade sausage,

BITTERROOT Bullman's Pizza

caramelized onion and goat cheese on crushed tomato. Add spicy Wustner Brothers' honey.

This nutty pizza breaks all molds when it comes to traditional toppings. An olive oil base topped with pistachios, red onions, rosemary, mozzarella and sea salt, it's savory and sweet.


THAI PIE Mackenzie River Pizza Company Thai peanut sauce, seasoned chicken, mandarin oranges, scallions, red peppers, peanuts and mozzarella, topped with fresh cilantro.

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HO K K A I DO R AM E N A N D I Z A K AYA 825 Great Northern Blvd, Helena, MT IRRASSHAIMASE! Irrasshaimase! That's what staff will yell out to you when you enter Hokkaido Ramen & Izakaya restaurant. In short, it means "welcome" and it's the beginning of a dining experience you won't find anywhere else in Helena. General Manager John Schneider says it's a part of the vibe and energy they want to present to customers when they walk in the door, whether it's the first time or fiftieth. "We want to give them a little more than they expect," said Schneider. Izakaya by definition is a Japanese-style pub. "It's the kind of place you stop in after work for a drink and appetizers with friends," said Schneider. The atmosphere is friendly and casual and the staff seems happy and upbeat. The tables only seat two to four people with some room to add another chair or two. And they all surround a sushi bar in the middle. It's not a huge space but it is open and inviting. Schneider says the idea is quick service with a fast turnover. There is also an outside patio area perfect for warm-weather months where Schneider says they plan to have live music on certain nights. The menu has two sides and they keep it simple. There are hot and cold appetizers along with a selection of sushi rolls on one side, and on the other side are nine varieties of ramen to choose from. In case you're wondering, these are not the freeze- dried kind of noodles you might have survived on in college either. These are the traditional Japanese-style ramen noodles being served up in high-end restaurants across the country, giving cooks a chance to take you on a flavorful journey. Hokkaido Ramen & Izakaya might be the first and only ramen noodle restaurant in Helena but ramen has been a hot culinary trend for several years now. Tom Cai owns Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse in Helena and Salem, Oregon. He added ramen to the menu at his restaurant in Salem and it went over so well he decided to bring it to Helena. Cai is from China but learned to cook in Japan and


1 2 | T H E LO C A L - H E L E N A Pictured: Hokkaido Ramen and Izakaya

enjoys the food and style which is showcased in his restaurants. "We want to give people an amazing food experience," said Schneider. Their broth is made inhouse and is either pork, chicken or soy based depending on the bowl. "Then we add the same gourmet wheat noodles used in Japan," said Schneider. They recently started offering a gluten- free option too. On top of each bowl they carefully arrange fresh ingredients like garlic, chilis, shitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots, paying careful attention to flavor detail. It is quite an artistic looking dish for a bowl of noodle soup. You'll find there are spicy, salty and savory options and even bowls that combine them all. Ramen is served piping hot to begin with, but for the real heat lovers the spicy ramen goes up to a level three and they add habanero pepper to the mix. The garlic ramen packs a flavor punch and might leave you with some rather strong breath but it's worth it. The bottom line, as most foodies will agree, ramen is good. Like really, really good. At Hokkaido Ramen & Izakaya it also happens to be super affordable at around $11 for a bowl. For the inexperienced ramen eaters, chopsticks and a spoon are the authentic way to do it but that might take some more practice before diving in. If you have to, you can always grab a fork. Just remember, the best way to eat ramen is to throw table manners aside and embrace the slurp. Seriously, there's an actual science to this method that involves keeping the broth hot and your noodles from getting too mushy by slurping it down. If you need something to cool off the tongue, on the drink menu there is local beer, wine and an “extensive" sake list. Customers can even design their own flight of sake in order to try multiple samples. If you're looking for a really entertaining drink, the Mount Fuji is a mix of sake and other spirits. It comes with two straws and a flame in the middle! Whether you’re looking to spice things up on date night, or just want a quick, adventurous alternative for happy hour with a friend, Hokkaido is a great choice. It’s different and deliciously daring, especially for Helena. You may find yourself so satisfied and refreshed by the change of pace and scenery here that, on your way out, you yell, “Oishī!” (delicious) right back at the staff! n


mtclubevents@gmail.com | 406.442.5980 24 West 6th Avenue, Helena, MT 59601

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Pictured: The Sapphire Bar

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F I R E TOWE R CO F F E E HO U S E 22 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT

There’s a spot downtown on Helena’s Last Chance Gulch—a street that boasts historical architecture, charming mom and pop shops and favorite local hangouts—that sings to its own tune. A place where you can get a bottomless cup of hot coffee and a lesson in the history of rock and roll, all in one fell swoop. Nestled between cafés, pottery studios, boutiques and bookstores sits Fire Tower Coffee House, named after Helena’s iconic landmark, the Guardian of the Gulch, built in 1876. Fire Tower has been serving strong, hot, delicious coffee to customers for a solid 21 years. Within the uniquely decorated, story-filled walls lives the man behind the curtain, owner Nord Johnson, who’s known for his wacky sense of style, love of people and undisputable passion for rock and roll music. He’s rarely worn a matching pair of shoes during his seven years as owner of Fire Tower Coffee. It’s all part of his charm. Ever since Nord took over, the sourcing and roasting of Fire Tower’s coffee has become very intentional. “All the coffee we roast is organic and fair-trade. It’s the best coffee you can buy. I buy my green beans as whole beans, no fragments. So what you’re drinking here is as good as you can get,” Nord says. Inside the coffee roasting room, ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” blares through the speakers as a dedicated fellow aptly named “Buzz” works his magic. Buzz has been been roasting small batches of beans for the past six years. Every batch is meticulously logged and tracked because every time new beans are used, the moisture content will be different, altering roasting times and tactics. Nord watches, listens and smells the beans, like a vinter, only with coffee. His job is to assure quality and consistency. He wants every cup of coffee to be just as fresh and robust as the last. The machine itself is a giant, black, 35 year old German Probat manual roaster. It’s the largest roaster in Helena. “The roaster is the golden goose,” Nord says. “That machine is what runs and

Behind T H E C U R TA I N


Pictured: Nord Johnson, Owner

drives this business. Not only the selection and quality of beans, but how they’re roasted in-house and our attention to detail.” Not only is the roasting on point, but the grinding and brewing is adjusted and fine tuned by the baristas throughout the day for an absolutely perfect espresso shot. But it’s more than just a place for a great cup of coffee. “Fire Tower Coffee House is a restaurant with a coffee shop feel. We sell more food than coffee. We have very reasonable prices and I upgraded all of the ingredients,” says Nord. By upgraded, he means switched to Montana-sourced foods, using Wheat Montana from Three Forks, Grains of Montana out of Billings, and The Dive Bakery from Helena to serve fresh, warm pastries every day including the ever popular Huckleberry Bear Claws. Breakfast is not limited to the pastry case, stellar as it may be. The menu includes cooked-to-order breakfast sandwiches and burritos loaded with ham, sausage, bacon, veggies and cheese, along with a lighter fare, like oatmeal, yogurt and granola. When it comes to lunch though, Nord is arguably his own biggest fan. He especially loves the

Smoked Turkey on Cranberry Walnut Sandwich, which he’s dubbed The Best Sandwich on the Planet. Nord says it comes with this guarantee: “If you don’t like it, I’ll eat it for you.” For this sandwich, he starts with the best: Grains of Montana’s cranberry walnut bread, which offers a sweet and slightly tangy flavor with a crunch of walnuts. He spreads on a sweet, creamy apricot mayo, made in house, layers on tomatoes so fresh and ripe they are dripping with juice, and tops it off with a heaping pile of smoked turkey. The result is culinary sandwich perfection and is a must-try for anyone looking for a new take on a classic. The rest of the lunch menu features generous salads, paninis, wraps, soups and more, making it the perfect go-to lunch and afternoon coffee pick- me-up stop, all in one. Between comfy seating, unconventional decor, an ideal downtown location and great music, the feel of Fire Tower Coffee is like none other. From the moment you walk in and the heavenly aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans compliments the eclectic rock and roll vibe, you realize it’s exactly where you always wanted to be.


NOW OPEN (406) 422-5975 • 2801 N. Roberts, Helena, MT

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Nord’s incredible collection of first press original records, complete set of German album covers and 18 guitars signed by artists like REM and Journey, are some of the wares that adorn the walls. It’s a large guitar collection for someone who doesn’t play guitar, but he can’t pluck the strings while he’s conducting his cafe like a maestro conducts music. He is the master of his own rock symphony, his concerto being delicious, home-cooked food and amazing coffee, which is music we can all get behind. “This business is kind of like my home. I surround myself with things I like and I think my customers like it too. It’s very eclectic. Customers bring me art, posters, vintage black light Grateful Dead posters,” Nord says. “Half the stuff in here has been given to me by customers.” Watching Nord interact with patrons reveals that people are his number one passion. His relationships are what Nord is most proud of. “They’re like family,” he says, including staff in this statement. LP, a barista who has been working at Fire Tower Coffee for more than three years, is described as an integral part of their success. She recognizes customers in line and has their coffee ready by the time they get to the register. It’s above and beyond your run-of-the-mill coffee shop customer service and that is what Fire Tower Coffee prides itself on. “I was always in the food and beverage business,” Nord says. “I love it because I love people. It’s all about relationships. Listening, that’s the whole thing.” Nord’s daughter, Faith Johnson, Miss Montana’s Outstanding Teen 2016, says, ”He’s a good father and family man, has a wacky style and likes to stand out. Everyone knows and loves my father. I’m Nord’s daughter. It’s a compliment. Customers show up just to see him. They say just seeing him made their day. Sometimes I forget that he’s my dad and not just my friend.” Of course, he’s a true lover of downtown Helena, as well. “It’s my world. I do all my shopping from locally owned shops. Downtown is the heartbeat

of Helena. It’s the historic part, where all the cool mom and pop stores are. It's about relationships. All the businesses that are successful downtown are built on relationships,” Nord says. And Nord is certainly building relationships. Besides the aforementioned suppliers of food, Fire Tower Coffee partners with Ten Mile Creek Brewery, Lewis & Clark Brewing Company, Gulch Distillers, Real Food Market & Deli, Van’s Thriftway, and Lucca’s, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Next time you find yourself downtown, stop in for a cup of coffee and strike up a conversation with Nord. Take a peek at his mismatched shoes and ask what shows he’s been to lately. Cozy up with a good book and listen to the symphony of grinding beans, casual conversation and music with a warm mug between your hands. Don’t forget to stay for lunch! A Firetower sandwich will hit the spot, guaranteed. n

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WRITTEN BY TYRRELL HIBBARD Co-owner, Gulch Distillers Eggnog, Tom & Jerry, Brandy Alexander, White Russian, Pina Colada, Irish Coffee—though diverse in spirits, temperature, appearance, and occasion, these seemingly unrelated drinks all share the same position in cocktail taxonomy: that of the Flip. Originally a concoction of ale, rum, and sugar heated with a red-hot iron in seventeenth- century England, the Flip made winter more bearable: the iron, pulled directly from the fireplace and into a mug, caused the drink to froth, or “flip.” Colonial Americans thickened the mixture with eggs and replaced the poker with a set of pitchers to mix the ingredients by tossing back and forth. Those eggs replaced the froth with a nice foam. To celebrate cocktail decadence in its foundational format, simply mix a whole egg with 2 ounces of your choice spirit and 2 teaspoons of sugar (preferably demerara). Shake up the ingredients in your cocktail shaker without ice, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a glass and grate nutmeg over the top. If you also use cream and milk, you’ll have eggnog. Heat the milk, and first make a batter of the egg and sugar, for a Tom and Jerry. Try it with rum, gin, whisky, or even fernet. 2 ounces spirit, ½ oz simple syrup or liqueur, egg white, and—for a sour—lemon juice. Shake well without ice to properly emulsify the egg. Add ice and shake to chill. Strain into a coupe and garnish with fresh nutmeg or bitters. Then thank the long evolution of spirits and mixology for refining such a straightforward, balanced, and seductive drink neatly packaged in a cocktail glass. Cheers. n


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Helena is a great place to work and live and there are plenty of ways to enjoy this beautiful town but, let’s face it, sometimes you just need to take the edge off with a happy cocktail at a happy price. Come thirsty, leave happy. B R OA DWAT E R HOT S P R I N G S 4920 W, US-12, Helena, MT Depending on your schedule, you could get the happy hour train rolling as early as 3pm on a Monday. Broadwater Hot Springs features their “Happetizer” menu from 3-5pm Monday through Friday. Weekday blues got you down already? Enjoy a delightful soak with a $5 glass of house

still want to get your happy hour going as early as 3pm, stop on into the Windbag in the heart of downtown Helena. From 3-6pm Monday through Friday, the Windbag offers beers on tap for $2.50 as well as house wines for the same price. The deals don’t stop there though! Stop in any day of the week for offers that are nearly impossible to pass up. Lover of Moscow mules? Moscow Monday is your day for $5 Moscow mules—see their menu for a full list of flavors. More of a margarita drinker? On Tuesdays, you can get a $4 margarita or a $3 Corona. Wednesday is “Kill the Keg” day, which means the beer of the bartender’s choosing is sold for $2.50 all day until the

wine or $3.25 beer with 20 local brews to choose from. If you want a poolside snack, Broadwater offers a delicious selection of chef prepared “happetizers” like the Mount Helena Nachos or Queen City Sliders, to name a couple. And, just in time for winter, Broadwater will be opening a new poolside bar as well as an expansive jacuzzi that can fit more than thirty people at a time. You can invite all your friends and family for happy hour and a jacuzzi soak! W I N D B AG 19 S Last Chance Gulch St, Helena, MT If you’re not quite feeling the steamy allure of a hot spring, but

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keg has been killed. Additionally, Wednesday is BOGO wing day, so take a friend and buy some wings and get another order free. Thursday night at the Bag is well known among the college crowd for Power Hour at 10pm when you can get $1 well drinks and $1 Bud Lights. If that’s not a good enough deal, stop by Friday or Saturday after 10pm for $4 double wells. Finish the weekend off right on Sunday with a domestic pitcher for $7 or a microbrew pitcher for $10 and a side of $8 boneless wings with many flavor options. R I A LTO 52 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT Starting just a bit later in the day, The Rialto offers $2.50 drafts and well drinks from 4-7pm Monday through Friday. The Rialto—locally referred to as “The Toe”— has a great back patio that is popular year round. Montanans are known for being well weathered, but if you feel brave enough (or hot enough from the crowd inside), the patio space offers a comforting backyard vibe through rain or snow. The Rialto opened in 1929 as Helena’s first fountain pop shop and has since become a favorite bar for many over the years. Don’t let the rumors of ghosts keep you from the screaming happy hour deals. L A PA G R I L L 32 W 6th Ave, Helena, MT Who doesn’t love tacos and beer? Better yet, who doesn’t love tacos and CHEAP beer? Stop in to La Pa (right downtown) on any weekday between 5-6pm for $1.50 beers. Yes, you read that right—$1.50!!! This offer applies to all beers, even those delicious rotators that are always cycling through.




right! Buy one get one FREE! This applies to ALL drinks! Craft beer, White Claws, Bloody Mary’s— everything! The Sapphire Bar even offers a small bar menu with mini tacos, french fries, and more to curb any drunken munchies. Locals love the allure of the Sapphire’s friendly bartenders and back patio. Go say hi to Rob Starz—voted Helena’s best bartender of 2019! Helena knows a thing or two about happy hour. Why wait for the weekend when you can enjoy yourself this much Monday through Friday? Sip, save and pursue happiness like it’s your Helena-given right. n

The only catch is that you are required to purchase food with your incredibly discounted beer, but with a menu like La Pa’s, you’ll have no trouble finding a tasty snack. You know how breweries offer flights so you can sample multiple beers? Lapa does the same WITH SALSA! Not sure which of their amazing eight salsas to dip your chips in? Between two salsa flights you can try them all! And, don’t forget, Mondays are double punch day so you can get yourself an extra stamp closer to a free burrito. T HE S AP PH I R E BAR 101 N Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT If you’re still downtown between the hours of 5-7pm, hit up The Sapphire Bar on the walking mall for their incredible happy hour deal. Buy one get one free. That’s

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Discover. Imagine. Play.

995 Carousel Way | Helena


Give the gift of creativity at the


TAKE A CLASS Take a class at the Bray or gift an experience! Learn to make mugs, jewelry, bowls, sculpture, ornaments, cocktail cups and more! Gift cards may be purchased in the Gallery.

The Archie Bray Foundation Clay Business offers clay and clay equipment, pottery tools, dry materials, glazes, Bray Patch, Bray-Poxy, books, advice and more! Gift certificates are available.

archiebrayclay.com | 406-442-2521 | claybiz@archiebray.org

education@archiebray.org | 406-443-3502 x11 | archiebray.org

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Open Spaces

Pictured: Montana Backcountry Yurt

PHOTOS by BRIAN THRELKELD WRITING by CLAIRE LARSON MON TA N A B A C KCO U N T R Y Y U R T S Big Belt Mountains, Montana Let’s say it’s been a long week. The undercurrent of life’s daily stresses and struggles have left you feeling frazzled. You need a cure for the common commotion. A home away from home. You need a clean slate, a chance to fully unplug and remember what matters most. If only there was a beautifully hand built yurt hut tucked in the peaks of the Big Belt mountains where you could bring your bare necessities and fully immerse yourself in the forest for a couple days. Oh wait, there is! The folks at Montana Backcountry Yurts (MBY) have worked their tails off to create two off-grid structures that offer luxury and ease amongst the solitude and stillness of nature’s embrace. So, you decide to go. You book your stay online and grab your pack. You consult the already well thought out list on the MBY website. You gather and organize gear and supplies. You download the recommended map app to your phone so you’ll be able to track your location in real time, no cell service necessary, alleviating any worries about finding the remote location in unfamiliar territory. You pack your favorite backcountry meals, maybe a good book, definitely some good coffee and hop in the car. Time to get the heck out of Dodge. There’s nothing quite like the open road when it comes to shedding a case of the crazies and by the time you crest the hill and glimpse your first view of Canyon Ferry Reservoir, you’ll be breathing a little easier and taking in the subtle colors of sage speckled prairies and deep navy blue water. Highway 284 is about as stress-free as it gets, no white knuckles or snap decision making required. Just wide open views, fresh air and sweet Montana charm as you make your way toward the turn to Duck Creek Pass where the crunch of gravel or snow beneath your tires never felt so right. As workweek drama and pesky deadlines begin to melt away they’re replaced by chipmunks skittering across the road or the swoop and perch of birds in the tall trees. Depending on the season you may even spot a bear and will likely see wildlife residents gathering food or tending to their homes and young with ease and instinct. These little

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creatures are welcome messengers and may gently remind you in their own subtle way that intentional resting is just as important as constant gathering. Parking options vary depending on season and vehicle but you’ll choose your spot and cut the last thread between you and the fast-paced world. With your pack on your back and skis or boots on your feet you’re off for a handful of miles on a journey that will cleanse your spirit and soothe your nerves with green leafed glory or shimmering snow. The excitement and thrill of the trek ahead will dazzle you on your way to your new home in the woods. Once the hut is in view, brace yourself. Your already splendor-filled day is about to get even better. The quiet, at this point, is stunning. The stillness begins to sink in. Once through the front door you’ll meet the warm, amber beauty of raw wood, the sturdy structure of frame and canvas. This treasured place is thoughtfully designed, easily understood and refreshingly simple. Things you don’t normally have when you arrive at your destination on a backpacking trip: a propane stove, dishes, memory foam mattresses, a fireplace and already gathered and chopped wood, a large beautiful dining table, solar-powered LED lights. These are welcome commodities and helpful additions when you’re looking to abandon stress altogether and just really enjoy the quality of your time in this extraordinary place. For the next couple of days, or maybe longer if you’re a real lucky duck, you can settle into the rhythm of backcountry living. Wake with the sunrise, stoke the fire, sip hot coffee on the porch, read, eat, ski/hike/berrypick/swim/hunt, chop wood, nap, cook, reflect, watch the sunset, stargaze and snuggle into your sleeping bag for a night of restorative sleep. It’s just plain good medicine. At some point, you can’t help but wonder what it took to accomplish the feat of building such a glorified fort way out here. How did the MBY team get all of these supplies out here? How many trips and days were spent planning and gathering, constructing and installing, hammering and sawing? After my own stay, I was curious and eager to hear the story from the people who set this dream in motion. MBY Co-owner, Brad Maddock remembered the construction process taking the

better part of a month and explained that, “Building a 15 person longhouse style yurt in a remote location certainly had its challenges and was a slow process. Thankfully, the Forest Service allowed us to drive supplies directly to the yurt location but only for a very small window of time. Remembering everything we would eventually need to have at the hut was almost impossible. While we did a fairly good job, there were still many items that we ended up packing in on our backs, or pulling behind us on sleds in the winter. Luckily, we have a great group of friends that helped carry everything from memory foam mattresses and folding chairs to coffee mugs and percolators. I think we still owe them for that! Overall, we couldn't be more happy with the outcome of the hut and the location.” So, how did Montana Backcountry Yurts go from wild hair to booming business in a matter of months? Brad explains that he and two buddies, Kyle Perkins and Jennings Anderson, met while attending Carroll College in Helena and discovered they all shared a love of overnight yurt and hut trips. A Yurt Ski in the Southern Swan mountain range just outside of Seeley Lake became a go-to favorite of theirs over the years and when, in 2017, that spot and business was listed for sale they jumped on the opportunity to purchase and develop MBY. “Two years later,” Brad says, “it is still a bit surreal that we own such a fun business and get to share our love of backcountry trips with others.” Brad describes the rare and powerful ways in which the MBY business venture has strengthened not only their friendships and business partnerships but has also impacted the lives of their families, “You learn a lot from being in the backcountry. There are always unknown situations that arise that keep you on your toes, thinking, and problem solving. You learn a lot about yourself, others, and bond with them over your adventures. We are excited to have the Big Belt Hut as a family friendly location in the Summer. Just as friends can bond over backcountry adventures, so can families. We take our families in there to enjoy the beauty of the Montana backcountry and we hope others will too!” They say it takes a village to raise a child and, in that same vein, it has taken a dedicated community to offer these hidden gems among two of Montana’s pristine mountain ridges. The hope is that, by creating and maintaining these structures more people will be inspired to get out of their comfort zones and into the energizing and restorative

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embrace of the great outdoors. Hunters need a great base camp where young and old, seasoned and new alike can feel confident and comfortable? Covered. Families who want a real backpacking experience but could also use the gentle assist of reliable shelter, cooking conveniences and cozy beds for all? You bet. Friends who need a total escape to reconnect and rekindle their sense of adventure on trails or skis? This is your spot. The solitary hiker who needs a couple days of deep reflection, restoration and self-care? Yep. Do I even need to mention romantic get-away for two? So, go. Leave the to-do lists and not quite completed projects where they are. Let your mind rest while your body breathes in the fresh air and utter contentment found here. It’ll all be waiting for you when you come home and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll gain the unique sense of renewed energy and crystal clarity that can only come from uninterrupted time in open spaces. n

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Enchanting R I D E

Pictured: Anglers on the Missouri River Great N rthern Car sel

Office buildings were also added and the first occupants opened their doors in 1999. Alan, along with his wife Nancy, were instrumental in getting ExplorationWorks going. The pair donated the land and provided funding to help make it possible. Also in the works at this time was the long cultivated desire planted in a young Nicholson’s mind as he marveled at the carnival rides in his childhood: a carousel. Creating the carousel was a five-year project. From the beginning, the plan was to make a piece of moving art that would stand the test of time and be an enchanting ride enjoyed for generations to come. When the National Carousel Association’s convention was held in Helena in 2010, they declared our town’s carousel to be the finest carousel in the country, maybe even the world. Each animal was hand-carved out of basswood by Ed Roth, an artist from Long Beach, California, who came from a long line of woodcarvers. His artwork is included in the Disney Carousel in Japan. However, getting a world-famous woodcarver to interrupt Disney projects to create pieces for a small town in Montana was no easy feat. Nicholson chuckles as he recounts reaching out many times, with no reply. “He didn’t respond because he didn’t think I was serious. A carousel in Montana? He thought I was nuts, which I admitted on the spot.” The animals are all hand-painted by Spokane’s own Bette Largent. She has earned the reputation of being one of the best carousel painters in the world. With riders climbing on and off all year, wear and tear is inevitable. Each year, a local artist comes in to touch up the animals so they look fresh and new again. Helena artist Mary Harris created many stained glass pieces that can be seen throughout the carousel building, including the rounding boards at the top depicting Helena wildlife scenes. A stained glass piece once belonging to the original Broadwater Hotel, which Nicholson won at an auction, can also be seen in the space. The rods, cogs and other mechanisms that make the carousel go round were made by Todd Goings of Ohio. He is one of the few specialists who build mechanisms for these nostalgic machines. He travels to Helena every couple of years to fine-tune the carousel himself, ensuring it is operating safely and optimally. Almost 2,000 light bulbs warmly set the

PHOTOS & WRITING by EMILY CLEWIS G R E AT NO R T H E R N C A R O U S E L 989 Carousel Way, Helena, MT The Great Northern Carousel is a Helena treasure, a love letter to the town thoughtfully written by founder Alan Nicholson and his family. Partnering exclusively with experts from the carousel community, the landmark boasts both the appearance and experience of excellence and fun. Occupying space in the Great Northern Town Center, the ride is conveniently located next to ExplorationWorks, making it a hub of family enjoyment. The seeds of such amusement were planted early in the life of a young Alan Nicholson. Growing up in the small town of Roundup, Montana, he and his friends would feel the rush of excitement when the circus came to town. “Us kids would go watch ‘em put up all the tents and all the rides and things,” Nicholson remembers fondly. “And I always loved riding the carousel. It’s a fond memory of my childhood. All the excitement around that every summer.” After obtaining degrees in math and science at Montana State University and a master’s at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, Nicholson was brought to Helena as a math and science supervisor with the state. It was then he began taking steps to develop sections of downtown Helena. When he began this work, many historic buildings—including the Power Block, New York Block and Gold Block—were falling apart and abandoned. Some were even condemned or on the verge of demolition. Energized by a government push for urban renewal, Nicholson acted. “I was pretty naive back then and I thought, ‘That would be a pretty nice thing to do and it might even turn out to be profitable.’ So, I did that.” On a roll with vision and success in renewal endeavors, he set his sights on a new project: the lot where Helena’s first railroad depot had been. Riddled with weeds, long unused train tracks, and abandoned buildings, Nicholson slowly turned the plot into today’s Great Northern Town Center. Driven by the desire to create a new center of entertainment for the city, the area was designed to include restaurants, hotels and a movie theatre.

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carousel alight, creating an air of magic as it spins. Many Montana animals grace the carousel alongside some more magical additions, such as the hippocampus, a mythical creature that carries the head of a horse and the body of a fish, complete with a colorful fishtail. Otters swim playfully through the air and look up at riders. Dinosaurs, the original Montana animals, can be found frolicking among the horses. “The wolf is superbly done. It’s beautifully painted and carved,” Nicholson remarks. The bighorn sheep is a crowd favorite. With a strong stance, he can be assumed to be a leader of the crew. As a Montana State graduate, Nicholson had to include a bobcat. “You’ll notice the bobcat is behind the grizzly, chasing him,” Alan laughs warmly. “The grizzly is obviously afraid of the bobcat!” The entire Nicholson family—Alan, Nancy, and their five children—all took part in the creative process of dreaming and creating the ride. “It was a family affair,” he states proudly. “My youngest daughter was just eight years old when we opened the carousel. She and her friends were the first riders. I hope it’s running 50 years from now. We didn’t cut any corners when building it, so it should be running when your grandchildren are having kids. It’s been a labor of love for many years now. It was very much an experience of a lifetime, getting it all put together.” In January 2019, the ride was temporarily closed for renovations. As part of the renovation process, the animals were repainted. The floors were redone so they would pop and the room was painted to compliment the refreshed animals. A new token machine and candy corner were added as well as fresh signage and artwork throughout. Together, ExplorationWorks and the Great Northern Carousel bring fun, excitement and education to the Helena scene. They are joined in their mission to provide enriching experiences and have begun to collaborate more and more by offering things like summer camps and workshops. Family favorites, like the ice cream stand, will always be a vibrant part of the ride experience. “At our carousel, if you get an ice cream cone before 6:00, it doesn’t have any calories in it,” Alan proclaims. n

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T H E A R T S A R E F O R Everyone


T H E MY R N A LOY 15 N Ewing St, Helena, MT

Nestled among towering old trees and sitting parallel to the county courthouse is the 1894 granite Jailhouse. Often mistaken for a museum, The Myrna Loy is not that quiet or reserved. It is a vibrant arts center that thrives 363 days out of the year. When you walk up the granite steps, you’ll be swept up into another time. The building alone is a work of art, steeped in history. Wandering the Myrna Loy reconnects adults to their childhood sense of curiosity and wonder. The Myrna Loy is a treasure map of experiences; each experience evoking thought and inspiration. The adventurer is left filled with a sense of hope and awe— often deeply moved by what they’ve witnessed and subtly

changed in ways they may have least suspected. Art Education and Outreach Coordinator, Retta Leaphart, shared, “It’s really hard to not be inspired when you are at the Myrna. We all need the arts. The arts aren’t a luxury, they are a human need. The Myrna fulfills something that a lot of us are searching for.” Nationally recognized as a cultural powerhouse, the Myrna prides itself on being an integral part of the Helena community. Actress Myrna Loy, who lived down the road from the Jailhouse, was known for her grace, wit, creative artistry, social activism, and humor. The Myrna Loy strives to embody these characteristics by offering 20-30 performances a year, screening films not offered in mainstream theatres, sponsoring 15-20 artists a year through the grants to artists program and immersing itself in the community through various arts education programs. So, what can an evening at the Myrna Loy look like? Note the word “ can ” because most assuredly no two evenings are ever the same at The Myrna. One can arrive and grab a light bite and drink at The Pub. While at The Pub, don’t be too surprised if you find yourself joining a movie club or suddenly engaged in a conversation with a local artist. After, your light bites and beverage you will most likely find yourself in a conundrum. Should you take in an alternative film, channeling the passion of past Helena film lovers Arnie Malia, Alexandra Swaney, who along with a partner created the Helena Film Society in 1976? Or should you check out a live performance that feature talented artists and musicians from all over the world? Afterall, how often can one say, “I saw them at the Myrna Loy first?” If you find yourself still struggling to decide, do not fret, you can peruse the current art exhibit and perhaps if you are lucky join in an opening reception. The power of art to transform is the Myrna Loy. However, the Myrna Loy is not solely housed within the walls of the Jailhouse. The magic of the Myrna Loy can be found throughout the Helena community. The Myrna recognizes the challenges of being an artist in Montana. Artists living in the Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater counties can apply for a cash grant and technical support. Grants have been awarded to artists as young as sixteen.

The Myrna Loy also has an extensive arts education program whose guiding principle is “the arts are for everyone” and provides a plethora of opportunities aimed to inspire students to recognize that artistically based careers are valuable and viable career options and unquestionable assets to communities. The program works hard to provide opportunities for groups that wouldn’t necessarily have access to the arts. Intermountain, Shodair, the Project for Alternative Learning, Touchmark and Edgewood are just a few of the organizations that the arts education program has collaborated with. When designing programs, Retta Leaphart, often asks, “Which students need to see themselves reflected in the artists?” The education program has had some stand out moments. For instance, Capital High School students in the Functional Life Skills class, had a teaching artist who visited their classroom. Prior to their lessons with the teaching artist, one student in particular struggled to raise their hand. After the lessons, a paraprofessional who had been working closely with the student testified that the student began to raise their hand and was more socially engaged. Also in collaboration with the education program, fourth grade students at Warren Elementary learned to breakdance. Teachers noted that some students who struggled academically were able to shine and gain confidence through learning how to breakdance. It was also noted that dancing and cheering became more prevalent on the playground. The education programs provide students with new experiences; the programs validate students’ passions while also promoting empathy and understanding. The experiences that can be found at The Myrna Loy do the same for adults. The artistic experiences are deep, thoughtful, socially engaging, and designed to broaden horizons. The Myrna is a community gathering space that can also be described as a type of sanctuary. It is a space where you feel safe to feel challenged and empowered to think outside of the box. So, if you are new to Helena or new to hearing of the Myrna Loy, treat yourself to a treasure hunt. You deserve it. n

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