It’s the time of year again when chainsaws rev, moose disappear, trees fall and buildings rise. March is the month of the 96th annual Foresters’ Ball, a nearly century-old tradition at The University of Montana.
Preparation for this year’s Foresters’ Ball, themed “Lightning Striking, Crews ‘A’ Hiking,” is now going full steam with construction slated to begin Monday, March 18. During that week, an 1800s logging town will be built inside the auxiliary gyms of the Adams Center for the ball, which will take place Friday and Saturday, March 22-23.
Between now and construction on March 18, the students involved with the Foresters’ Ball are making final preparations and publicizing the event. On Saturday, March 9, students will conduct a thinning-for-resource benefit in the Miller Creek area southeast of Missoula, with the cut trees going to decorate the ball. Additionally, various building supports will be erected and equipment will be prepared for construction week.
Rumor has it that the lawyers are up to no good again, meaning the foresters will have to be on the lookout for moose thieves. The foresters will get their chance to put the law students in their place during a competition at Boondockers’ Day, Thursday, March 14, on the UM Oval. A ticket drop is on the agenda, as well as various competitions for students to win tickets.
Tickets for the Foresters’ Ball go on sale Monday, March 18, in the University Center and at the Sunrise Saloon. Single tickets cost $20 and couples tickets are $35.
The Foresters’ Ball weekend will kick off with the Careers in Natural Resource Management Fair from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, March 22. The fair is a new event designed to showcase the multitude of career and education options within the broad field of natural resource management. The fair is geared toward Missoula-area high school juniors and seniors, prospective and current UM students and Missoula community members. The event will provide an opportunity for attendees to meet and interact with potential employers, educators and current students to explore the possibility and benefits of an education and career in natural resources.
Doors open at 7 p.m. Friday, March 22, for the first night of the 96th annual Foresters’ Ball dance. Live music will be provided by local band Kung Fu Kountry and attendees will kick up their heels on one of Montana’s largest dance floors. On your way in the doors, you’ll have a chance to ride the Slurry Bomber slide, which is only featured every other year at the Foresters’ Ball. Other attractions abound, including Saint Smokey’s Chapel, where weddings and divorces will be conducted for a fee; the proceeds from which will go to Camp Mak-A-Dream. And don’t pass up the Jail, run by the UM Wildlife Society, which will arrest poachers, passersby and just about anyone you pay them to.
Coke and water will be available at the Pulaski Pub and the Hard Hat Café will serve chili. Remember to check out “Red Card Relics,” the theme-based exhibit where you’ll learn all there is to know about wildfire management. The doors to the event will close at 9 p.m., and the dance will end at 11 p.m.
Saturday, March 23, will feature the first-ever Foresters’ Ball Community Forestry Day, running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Community Forestry Day builds on the Foresters’ Ball tradition of hard work, community support and involvement, and creates a dynamic learning environment for families and children of all ages. Attendees can participate in hands-on demonstrations by a wide variety of presenters with strong ties to the natural world. The event is free and open to the public.
The second night of the Foresters’ Ball dance begins at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23. The Foresters’ Ball is an alcohol-free event. Additionally this year, patrons will be passively screened at the door, with sobriety required as a condition of entry to the dance. This is a strictly enforced policy and all laws of the state of Montana will apply.
This year’s Foresters’ Ball will, as always, be “A Swingin’ Good Time.” The event has a long tradition in Missoula because of the students’ drive. All the profits from the dance go directly back to students in the form of scholarships, making this a unique opportunity to benefit students while having a ball.