MISSOULA – The community is invited to two nights of dancing and honky-tonk music in celebration of a 101-year-old tradition at the University of Montana – the Foresters’ Ball – on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2-3, in the Schreiber Gymnasium.
The dance will run from 7 p.m. to midnight both nights and is open to the public. Tickets now are on sale at http://www.umt.edu/griztix/ and will become available the week of Jan. 29 in the University Center.
UM students spend the week before the ball transforming the gym into a turn-of-the-century logging town with a saloon, general store, jail, chapel and museum. This year’s theme, “Seven Hells and Choker Bells,” was selected by chief push Eamon Burke, a junior from Sleepy Hollow, New York, majoring in resource conservation.
“Making the 100th really special was important to us as a club and committee last year,” Burke said, “but this year, I wanted to show everyone that we’re not slowing down. My committee and I are focused on carrying the legendary tradition of the Foresters’ Ball into the future for the next generations of Montanans.”
The Foresters’ Ball town is open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday for those who want to see it before the event.
Headlining the event are performances by musicians Steve Frame and His Western Rebels and opener Ben Chappelow, accompanied by Kenny Westbrook, Stephen Cooke and Erik Nelson.
Frame and His Western Rebels play old-school honky-tonk and rockabilly tunes. The band played in Nashville for 11 years and Frame now calls Wyoming his home. Frame says their music centers around life in Wyoming and the American West, with stories of oilfields, rodeos and honky-tonks. At last year’s Foresters’ Ball, Frame opened for Reckless Kelly and this year is bringing his whole band with him to headline.
Ben “Benjo” Chappelow will open both nights with his band’s guitarist Westbrook, bassist Cooke and UM forestry major Nelson pickin’ the banjo. Chappelow has been playing since the 86th Foresters’ Ball.
Sobriety is a condition of entry to the Foresters’ Ball. Bags will be checked and all alcohol will be confiscated. However, a beer garden will be offered inside the event for attendees 21 and older from 7:30 to 10 p.m. both nights. Food also is available.
Proceeds from the event fund scholarships for students who put in at least 80 hours of work planning, constructing and taking down the venue. Students and alumni started working in September to cut the slabs used to construct the ball. Construction begins the Monday before the ball and runs 12 hours a day, up to an hour before Friday’s dance.