For almost any community function that goes on in Conrad, you will find that the local Lions Club, is most likely involved, if even just in the background.
The “Club” is made up of diverse members from the Conrad, Brady and Valier areas and is an affiliate of and governed by the International Association of Lions Clubs.
Tom Ophus, the Club secretary explains; “We are involved in efforts world-wide to help provide humanitarian needs by providing voluntary services through community involvement and international cooperation.”
Most of these efforts are directed toward helping those with sight and hearing problems.
In Montana, the Lions are involved with the Low Vision Montana project which helps to promote independence for those with low vision. They help the Montana Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation which provides help for those in need of eye glasses, hearing aids and help for the speech impaired.
At many of the functions and events in the city, the Lions Club members are cooking and frying up hamburgers or pancakes for gatherings like the Christmas Stroll, Night Out in the Park or in the new cooking area of the high school commons, not to mention their world famous burgers at the rodeo grounds during Whoop-Up.
Their largest and most recognizable event of course is the annual Whoop-Up Trail Days Celebration.
This two-day event, June 5-6, features one of the best National Rodeo Association rodeos under the Big Sky in addition to other activities that draw from the rich heritage in the area.
The Lions Club kicks the event off with its annual Pancake Breakfast that is one of, if not the biggest, social gathering of the year in Conrad.
After the “Big Parade” the Lions move out to the rodeo grounds just north of town to get their cook shack ready for cowboys and cowgirls of all ages as they filter in for two days of rodeo.
Ophus comments, “There is a feeling of stepping back in time at the Whoop-Up rodeo, where you can sit up on the hill or in the comfort of the recently added bleachers and watch many of our local cowboys, cowgirls and cow-kids compete.”
“The bottom line is that when you support the Lions Club you are helping our community,” says Dan Rouns, the club president.
He goes on to add, “We have been involved in helping the swim team, the Shooting Sports Club complex, the Legion baseball field, the Wrestling Club, the Pondera Arts Council, the Nu Kiel Park, the county Spelling Bee, and donating funds for the Conrad Library’s Large Print Books. We also provide reflective Halloween bags and youth bike helmets, liability insurance-riders for a number of events and many funds that go to countless individuals in need.”
If you would like to visit the Lions Club as a guest or as a prospective member, call Ophus at 278-5773 or any of the local Lions Club members.
Recently elections were held and Dan Wilcox is the president; Mike Harding VP; Ophus secretary; John McFarland treasurer; Lyle Orcutt Tailtwister; and Jerry Jerome Lion Tamer.
Following are Lions Club members, all who have or put in many hours of community service: Steve Becker, Jamie Byrnes, Byron Grubb, Kory Habets, Stephen J. Hutton, Wally Larson, Dan Majerus, Robert Moritz, Paul Olson, David Orcutt, J. Rouns, John L. Skipwith, John Taylor, Ron Widhalm, Buck Traxler, Howard Bouma, George Ellison, Gale Gustafson, M. Harding, J. Jerome, Rick Kellogg, Mark Leys, J. McFarland, James Morren, T. Ophus, L. Orcutt, Joe Russell, Ray Stoetzel, Larry Walter and D. Wilcox.
Over the last eight years well over $40,000 of direct donations to the community have been generated by the Lions Club.
You may be interested to know that $5,600 has gone for scholarships to Dollars for Scholars; $1,300 to Montana Sight and Sound; $1,675 to Boys’ State; $7,330 to the local FFA; $725 to Extension Homemakers; $1,319 for donated bicycles; $3,650 to the Conrad Public Library for their Large Print Books Program; $3,900 in eye glass assistance; $1,500 to the Swim Team; $2,400 to the Pondera Arts Council; $3,500 to the Shooting Sports Club; $775 to the History Association; $250 to the Centennial Committee; $710 in bike safety helmets, see last issue of The I-O; $1,400 to Tri-City Cardinals; $2,400 to the Pondera County Health Department for youth car seats and a new Helicopter Pad at the PMC; $400 to the Conrad Volunteer Fire Department and $975 to the Jaycees and Kiwanis.
Not included are the fees paid for liability insurance for other fund-raising events, which would not happen without the insurance.
Presently the Lions Club has suspended their meetings as they are having Monday work parties to get the rodeo grounds ready for Whoop-Up.
There are a lot of dedicated individuals who have helped to make Conrad a better place to tie your horse to the hitching post.
For more information about the Lions Club, contact anyone of the members listed above. In the meantime, come out and have fun at the 70th Whoop-Up Rodeo.