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Great Falls hosts annual Lewis & Clark Festival

Posted at 8:02 PM, Jun 22, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Every year, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls hosts the Lewis & Clark Festival, where they take people through the steps of what Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark went through on their journey across Montana more than 200 years ago.

Great Falls hosts annual Lewis & Clark Festival

“People can just come by,” said Duane Buchi, the director of the center. “They can see the teepees, they can look at some hides and some furs and some horns of antlers of different animals that they can touch and they can feel if they've got youngsters with them.”

In and around the Interpretive Center were demonstrations and food and craft vendors as hundreds of people learned about the trials and tribulations of Lewis and Clark’s journey.

“They were here longer than anywhere else on the trail,” Buchi said. “Except when they wintered over in North Dakota and then out there on the Pacific Coast.”

The festival kicked off on Friday with a storyteller event, and Saturday included beaver skinning demonstrations, a swivel gun demonstration, and exhibits on the period’s weapons and medicines.

“Montana, Lewis and Clark, has just become so common that maybe sometimes we just pass it by and it doesn't necessarily sink in,” Buchi said, “And that's another really, I think, important thing about a festival such as this.”

For kids, part of the festival was an adventure trail, which took them up to Giant Springs and back around to the Interpretive Center, with reenactments along the way, including a Revolutionary War soldier.

“And this today is representing the 1795 Springfield musket, which was literally an American copy of the Charleville,” said Scott Thielman, a reenactor at the Interpretive Center.

Two people from the center were using brown sugar and gumballs to demonstrate putting musket cartridges together, followed by Thielman firing off a musket blank over the Missouri River.

“It’s an absolute blast, pun intended,” Thielman said.

Whether you're here for the musket shootings or the beaver skinning or just to learn more about Lewis and Clark, you are taking part in the history of the state and learning more about what makes Montana so special.