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Great Art – Great Weekend

One of the reasons Bigfork was named “One of the 100 Best Small Art Towns of the West” is the Bigfork Festival of the Arts held the first weekend in August.  On August 1 and 2 of this year, Electric and Grand Avenues will be lined with more than one hundred booths featuring fine art and crafts of all types.  In addition, there will be food and entertainment, not to mention great specials in most of the shops, galleries and boutiques of the Village by the Bay.

For more than 30 years, the Festival has been a “must see/must do” tradition for visitors and residents alike. With more than 2000 artists and craftsmen in the Flathead Valley, you might think that this is a strictly Montana production.  But a stroll through the booths reveals that these are internationally recognized artists and craftsmen from throughout the Northwest and beyond. All have participated in an extensive jury process which ensures that the Festival’s reputation for quality is maintained.

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Not Your Typical School Play

Brach Thomson has seen it before. It’s the look he gets when people learn he directs children’s theatre.  It’s that ever-so-polite-but-wary look born of attendance at numerous school plays or recitals. That smile tells him that they haven’t experienced the Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theatre.  As Brach simply says “This is not your typical school play.” And the reviews and sold-out houses prove his point. The Children’s Theatre players and crew bring not just talent, but enthusiasm, drive and a desire for excellence that results in productions that have become a mainstay of the Bigfork fall and winter theater scene.

A child of the theatre himself, Thomson serves as Artistic Director of the Children’s Theatre and Associate Producer of the Bigfork Summer Playhouse.  When asked why children’s theatre, Brach has a simple answer.  He likes working with kids and he loves teaching. “Kids need positive things they can be proud of”, and theatre can fill that need. And the young troupers respond in kind. Students from throughout the valley come to Bigfork to try out for these productions.

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An Artistic Tradition

With all the scenic beauty surrounding them, it’s probably natural that the folks in the Bigfork area love art.  Not just the occasional painting or sculpture either.  We’re talking about all kinds of art – from traditional western landscapes and bronzes to delicate watercolor miniatures to chainsaw bears and huge iron installations.  And they don’t just keep their art at home.  They display it proudly in their parks, in their businesses and even at their front gate. They also wear it and walk on it.

The Flathead Valley is home to more than 2000 working artists and craftsmen, creating a selection that’s as large as the great outdoors.  Bigfork has an artistic tradition that has made it “One of the 50 Great Towns of the West” and “One of the 100 Best Small Art Towns of the Nation”.  Fine and performing arts are found in the village center as the Bigfork Museum of Art & History faces the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts, home to the Bigfork Summer Playhouse.  The Museum features changing exhibitions along with a wonderful gift shop offering the works of local artists.

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