MISSOULA – An all-new edition of the popular MontanaPBS travelogue program “Backroads of Montana” will premiere at 8 p.m. Monday, May 20.
The program, which seeks out interesting people and takes viewers on virtual tours of Montana’s lesser-known attractions, profiles an eastern Montana man whose passion for art literally has spread all over the town of Forsyth. However, Bob Watts has become better known for a different set of paintings, and it is not what he paints, but how he paints that gives him the notoriety.
Each summer Polson holds the Flathead Cherry Festival. “Backroads” followed some young competitors who bit right in to the cherry-pit-spitting and cherry-pie-eating contests.
Local residents in north-central Montana guided the “Backroads” crew into the Sweet Grass Hills, an unexpected natural wonder rising out of the prairie northwest of Havre. They explored a limestone cave that symbolizes why the hills are special to area residents and sacred to several American Indian tribes.
The program ends with a story that pits legitimacy against compassion. Virgil Stewart of Hobson began his dental practice in 1912 during an era when most rural Montanans could not afford such care. But ‘Doc’ Stewart couldn’t turn anyone away. For 50 years he filled and straightened teeth, often receiving nothing more than a chicken, some flour or an appreciative handshake. But he also battled for his right to help out his sore-toothed neighbors.
William Marcus, director of MontanaPBS, hosts the program from the Blaine County Museum and the Blaine County Wildlife Museum in Chinook, and the Wakhpa Chu’gn Archaeological Site – a buffalo jump – on the western edge of Havre.
MontanaPBS is a collaborative service of the University of Montana and Montana State University. Check local listings for channel.