The Montana Metis Music and Art Fest, free and open to the public, will be held in Choteau on June 14-16 at the Choteau Pavilion.
Sponsored by the Mitchif Heritage Keepers nonprofit organization with support from Humanities Montana, the event will include art and craft booths, a raffle and auction, concessions, a historic program and music. Everyone is welcome.
One of the organizers, Fred “Jiggs” Charette of Billings said last week that he hopes for a good turnout from Choteau and area residents and from Metis people who still live in the area, but he expects Metis from throughout Montana plus Washington, North Dakota, Arizona and California to attend the program.
This is the third year the Mitchif Heritage Keepers have held the cultural and historical event in Choteau.
People who come will hear about the Metis’ unique history, music and dance, food. “It would be a unique situation all the way around for them,” he said of people coming to the event, which has expanded its offerings every year.
There will be an open stage for all musicians during the event. Charette said he encourages anyone with a fiddle or a guitar to come and jam with the other musicians, including four fiddle players from Canada. Children from Bynum Elementary School have been invited to come and sing the song they wrote about the Metis people during a school project several years ago.
On Friday, June 14, the Choteau Pavilion will open at 9 a.m. and will be filled with artists and vendors tables all day. There will be musical performances in the afternoon and in the evening there will be two guest speakers with music in between their programs.
Professor Reno Charette of Montana State University-Billings will give a program called “Out from the Shadows.” She is Jiggs’ daughter.
Nicholas Vrooman, Ph.D., with the Northern Plains Folklife Resources of Helena will give a historical presentation on the Metis history and the surrounding area.
On Saturday, June 15, the Pavilion will again open at 9 a.m. with artists and vendors at their tables. Kathy Moran will present “Beginning of Mitchif,” a introduction to speaking the Metis language.
There will be music and dancing throughout the day and for evening programming, there will be a videographer present to do video interviews with Mitchif families. These videos will be used by the Montana Office of Public Instruction for the Indian Education for All curriculum. “This is the first time that we’re going to be involved with that. This will be a big thing for us,” Fred Charette said.
Also on Saturday evening, there will be a benefit auction.
On Sunday, June 16, there will be music, dancing, a worship service by the Rev. Joshua Charette, and a potluck all day in commemoration of Father’s Day.
The event is alcohol and drug free. For more information, call Fred “Jiggs” Charette at 506-371-7293 or Kathy Moran at 701-609-6780.