Fort Belknap Midwinter Fair Promises to Showcase Talent


February 6, 2019

The Grand Entry is a time of great pomp and pageantry. Surrounded by classic regalia and group drumming, even the youngsters find a way to express their heritage. These little girls, from a past Grand Entry at the Fair, showed their fancy regalia and demonstrated their dance moves.

The Fort Belknap Indian Community invites everyone to join them for the 51st Annual Fort Belknap Mid-Winter Fair which is being celebrated this week, February 5–9. The events of this year's fair not only align with its theme, Celebrating Our Talents, but promise to showcase talent.

Concessions opened at the Bingo Hall/Community Center, the site of most events, at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, followed by booth set-up from 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. Set-up continued again all day on Tuesday, and artists and quilters registered their works for display at Aaniiih Nakoda College's (ANC) Cultural Room, as well.

Registration for the art show continues today from 10:00-4:00 p.m. Although Art Show Chair, Shannon Fox welcomes the participation of all artists, she especially encourages teens and students to display their work. Fox explained that artwork can be paintings, drawings, ceramics, beadwork, photographs, quill work, leather craft, or star quilts.

Judging for the Art Show will take place on Thursday from noon until 2:00 p.m., after which there will be a reception and an awards ceremony at the ANC Cultural Center. Winning artists will receive plaques, cash prizes, and People's Choice Awards after 2:00 p.m.

For more information on the art show element during the Mid-Winter Fair, people can contact Fox by email,; by phone, 406-673-3622; or by messaging her on Facebook.

A Mid-Winter Fair Opening Ceremony will occur on Wednesday from noon until 2:00 p.m. Elder Protection Bingo will follow at 3:00 p.m., and a Banquet honoring the 1904 Fort Shaw Women's Basketball Champions will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Hays/LodgePole Elementary School. Fort Belknap Transportation will be offering rides for elders, and anyone interested should call 353-2447.

Jackie Bird, an inspirational speaker, puppeteer, hoop dancer, and singer, will perform at Wednesday's Banquet at 6:00 p.m. Persons with questions about Bird's presentation are encouraged to contact Hannah at 399-0140 or Liz at 390-3080.

Bird also presented at the Dodson Junior and Senior High School at 12:30 p.m. on February 5 and performed for the Hays/LodgePole students at 2:00 p.m. on February 6.

In addition to the Mid-Winter Fair's Art Show, other talent will be on display in the Canning Contest on February 7. Entries in three categories-Jams, Jellies, Syrups; Salsas and Pickles; Meats and Fish-will be accepted from 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The only requirement is that canned goods be preserved using safe canning procedures. Judging will follow at 2:00 and all entries will receive a prize. According to the organizers of this event, "Food preservation IS food security!"

Entries for baked goods-whether breads, rolls, cookies, or cakes-will also be accepted from 10:00-2:00 on Thursday, with judging to follow. The Baked Goods Contest is sponsored by the Fort Belknap Center for Disease Control Program. Prizes will be awarded, with a $50 cash prize going to the Best of Show winner.

For information on either the canned or baked goods contests, interested individuals should contact Hillary Maxwell at 390-1085.

With a "something for everyone" approach and a "cooking across the generations" motif, the Midwinter Fair will also offer a Chopped Cooking Contest on Thursday, from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Teams must have at least one adult and one child and their own electric skillet. Teams will be allotted 45 minutes to prepare food using three "secret" ingredients. All three must be used in preparing the plate, which will be judged on taste, presentation, and creative use of the three ingredients.

Anyone interested in signing up for this contest is encouraged to call Fort Belknap Reservation Extension at 353-2656, to send a message on Facebook, or to contact Pam Weasel-Azure, Event Chair.

As the day diminishes on Thursday, the Wasay Wakpa Wachi Red Paint Creek Pow Wow Committee will be holding a Pie Eating Contest at the Bingo Hall. Registration will begin at 5:00 p.m. and the contest is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult at this event, whose point of contact is Manny Morales. He can be reached at 353-2607 to address any questions.

Other events on Thursday include the Ranchers' Round-up. The theme for this event is Preparing for the Future. Events will take place on the ANC campus in the Returning Buffalo Building, Room 213. Sponsored by Montana State University Extension and the Fort Belknap Community, the program opens on February 7 at 8:30 a.m. After welcoming statements and introductions, those in attendance will receive an update on the Fort Belknap Food Sustainability Program. That will be followed by a presentation with Josie Cliff from the Red Paint Creek Trading Post. A Commercial Hemp Production will close out the morning's schedule.

Following the morning session, lunch will be served at the Bingo Hall, sponsored by the American Prairie Reserve.

In the afternoon session, from 12:30 p.m. until 3:00 p.m., Barb Cliff will lead a Medicinal Wheel Youth Presentation, Colleen Crill will share information on the Swift Fox Project, and Dennis Longknife will present on the Effects of Climate Change on Fort Belknap.

Thursday night will also play host to a Scramble Stick Game. Entries will open at 1:00 p.m. at the Bingo Hall and close at 6:00 p.m. The fee to enter is $25.00 per person, and everyone's name will go in a hat to be drawn in forming three-person teams. The Stick Game will be played Flathead Style, with prizes going to first, second, and third place teams. Anyone with questions should contact Hannah Has Eagle at 399-0140.

For those not playing in, or watching, the Stick Games, a Fiddle, Jig, Waltz and Singing Contest offers another opportunity to celebrate talent. Sponsored by the Fox Family, Cecelia Shortman, Warren Morin, Jay Willie Mount and Hannah Has Eagle, the contest will award cash prizes in both adult and youth categories. First place in the adult category will be $200, second place wins $100, and third place will take home $75. In the youth category, first place wins $50 and second receives $25. In the singing contest, prizes are $100, $75, and $50 consecutively. Those seeking additional information should call Tescha Hawley at 406-399-1577 or Robert Fox at 406-673-3773.

The Ranchers' Round-up will continue on Friday, February 8. Opening the session at 8:30 a.m., Joel Clairmont will discuss the topic of Preparing for the Future, and following him, Bud Walsh will share information about the Fort Belknap Marketing Cooperative.

After lunch, Alicia Doney, Traycee Sunchild and Riley Werk will lead an Intertribal Agriculture Council Youth Group presentation, Breeann Johnson will share information on Indian Estate Planning, and Matt Harrington with NACDC Financial Services will address needs in native communities related to the growth of family assets and sustainable economic development. NACDC Financial Services is based in Browning, Montana, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. They offer a range of services that are tailored to the needs of Native entrepreneurs.

The afternoon will close with an update from Jennifer Perez Cole who represents the Farm Service Agency.

On both Thursday and Friday, February 8, vendor sales will take place in a bazaar style from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and again on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Hosted by the Fort Belknap Economic Development Council, the Credit Department, and the Nakoda Aaniiih Credit Agency, the bazaar will feature various products for sale. Any business or organization wishing to sell products at the Fair should contact Kerry Racine at 406-390-0445 or Lisa Ironmaker at 406-353-8336. There is a $10.00 space reservation fee, with another $10.00 due on the day of the Bazaar.

The Mid-Winter Fair will also feature Bingo, a Mourner's Feed, Head Start Activities, a chili cook-off, a youth carnival, a jerky making class, and a baby contest. For more information on these events or on any other aspect of the Mid-Winter Fair, the curious are encouraged to contact Fort Belknap Extension at 353-2656.

The event will culminate in a Grand Entry at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, followed by a Traditional Pow-Wow at 7:00 p.m.


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