The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula is getting ready for another community Old Fashioned 4th of July celebration. Recently we had the executive director of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Matt Lautzenheiser, on our radio stations talking about the upcoming event. He mentioned that this year is going to look much different than the very first celebration almost 50 years ago. That got me curious about the first celebration.

Fort Missoula's First 4th of July Celebration

Matt and I sat down and talked about the first one. It took place on the 4th of July, 1976 which was also our country's bicentennial celebration. Taking a look back at the events that happened that day was interesting, it was a "snapshot" in time. According to Matt, the first Old Fashioned 4th of July event was supposed to be a "one off" event. Here we are decades later and they will be putting on the event for the 48th time. Some of the events from that first celebration haven't taken place in years. The amazing thing is there are some things that haven't changed in the almost 50 years.

Things Were Different Back in 1976

The theme of the first celebration was looking back at Montana in the 1870's. So some of the events wanted to look back a hundred years ago in Montana. Times sure have changed since 1976 and the 1870's.

  • Grease Pig- The "greased pig" event. A pig that was covered in grease was released and it was up to the kids to capture the pig.
  • Animal Races- Turtle races and frog jumping competition.
  • Preparing Chickens- The killing, plucking and stuffing of chickens. This was a demonstration to show how it was done in 1800's.
  • Baseball- There was a sandbox baseball game.
  • Chuckwagon- A working cooking chuckwagon that was able to feed 500 people.
  • Revolutionary War-  Volunteers were asked to participate in a Revolutionary War re-enactment event.
  • Tug Of War- There was a "nice big mud hole available for any teams or individuals interested in a tug of war".
  • Making Food and Soap- There was butter and ice cream churning and soap making demonstrations.
Photos of the first Fort Missoula 4th of July Celebration
Credit: Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Missoulian, Chris Wolfe

The amount of volunteers that it took to put on the first event is impressive. The event started as a community event and that hasn't changed. There are a few other things that, in almost 50 years, haven't changed.

Historical Museum At Fort Missoula Sign
Credit: Chris Wolfe

Some Things in Missoula Haven't Changed Much

The Missoula City Band will be performing this year like they did back in 1976. The Sweet Adelines Choir performed at the first event and they continue to perform around the Missoula area today. Both KYSS-FM and KGVO-AM radio stations were involved with the first event and they are still broadcasting in Western Montana.

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If you are looking for something for the entire family this holiday, keep the "Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration at Fort Missoula" in mind. You may not be stepping al the way back into the 1870's, but you will be able to take a step back in time and have fun while you do it.

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