Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Henry Netherland

Loon & Fish Art Show and Festival returns


Image Tony deRonnebeck

Tony deRonnebeck's design chosen for last year's festival will be the artwork for this year.

SEELEY LAKE - After taking a year off due to COVID-19, Alpine Artisans, Inc.'s (AAI) Loon and Fish Art Show and Festival will return for 2021 with a new date. Instead of taking place Memorial Day weekend, the festival will instead take place from 5-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20 and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21 in the Seeley Lake Community Foundation Building.

AAI Program Manager Jenny Rohrer said they attempted to change the date last year to late July but because it was canceled they set it a little later this year to avoid COVID-19 restrictions. She said they have been trying to schedule the event for the middle of summer for a few years.

"It's a real opportunity to see what the artists in our valleys are doing at one single show," she said. "And we really wanted to make sure that it's available to the most people."

Organizers intend to schedule the event in late July and early August for future iterations.

The show will feature pieces of art in the forms of woodwork, jewelry, watercolor, oils, embroidery, beadwork, origami, ceramics, mixed media, sculpture and photography from over 30 artists. Rohrer said submissions do not necessarily have to be loon or fish related but entrants must be AAI members. Those interested can begin signing up around July 1 on

On Aug. 20 there will be a "happy hour gala" with refreshments and the regular art show. Live music will also be available throughout the festival.

On Aug. 21 there will be a fundraiser lunch at Mission Bible Fellowship to raise money for the Seeley-Swan Community Food Bank. Rohrer said local potter Carrie Darrah created around 80 bowls to be sold with lunch. Local restaurants will donate the soup. Over the years, AAI's work with the Food Bank has raised over $34,000.

Rohrer said they are planning to have a full list of art demonstrations prepared for the event. Guests will be able to watch artists work on a piece in real time in mediums like beadwork, oil painting and watercolors. She said they are also inviting a number of outdoor organizations like the Montana Loon Society; the U.S. Forest Service; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; The Nature Conservancy; Clearwater Resource Council; Blackfoot Challenge and Swan Valley Connections to set up canopies.

She is not yet sure if they will have their traditional "Loon Walk" to the nesting sites because the loons will not be nesting in August. However, Kate Davis of Raptors of the Rockies will host a presentation with some of her birds at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22 at the Homestead Pavilion to help promote her new book.

The Loon and Fish Festival's raffle is one of AAI's primary fundraisers for their Youth Grant and Scholarship Program. The raffle items have not yet been decided but Rohrer said they will likely be related to recreation.

This is the 23rd iteration of the event. It originally began in 1993. Rohrer said one of their artists Kris Gullikson is making a commemorative poster featuring 23 years of designs that were originally printed on the event's annual t-shirts.

Every year artists submit a design for the event's logo contest. The event committee chooses the winning design. Last year's winner Tony deRonnebeck of Ovando had his logo selected before the event was canceled so his logo will be used this year. The committee is not yet sure if they will produce t-shirts this year.

Rohrer said they decided to name the event the Loon and Fish Art Show to reflect on "the strong value" that local artists and residents put on the natural world. Its original organizers named it specifically after what they felt were some of the area's biggest attractants to visitors.

She said the organizers were not expecting a great deal of challenges considering that they have run this event 23 times, but they expect to be flexible for any COVID-19 event requirements that may be in effect.

"This is a quirky little festival, I mean, I would call it the world's only Loon and Fish Festival," Rohrer said. "And it has a special place in the hearts of people locally. They get excited about it because it's been around for so long and it's such a tradition in Seeley Lake. There are so many artists that live in the Blackfoot, Clearwater and Swan Valleys that are creating art in their studios, art in their homes and ... it's hard to get access to it. But the Loon and Fish Festival has been the primary way that people can enjoy and even purchase the artwork that is extremely varied in the valley."

Those interested in volunteering or getting in contact can reach Rohrer through or by calling (406) 754-0034.


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