Conrad ready for Lions 72nd Whoop-Up Trail Days

06_elmer_1221Grand Marshall Elmer Philipps




By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

This weekend the world will focus its attention on Conrad as the Lions Club puts on their 72nd annual Whoop-Up Trail Days Celebration.

The festivities begin on Friday, with the rodeo action going for two days, Saturday and Sunday at the rodeo grounds just outside of town.

But, to get everyone limbered up for the rodeo, there are two concerts and a golf tournament taking place.

The Pondera Arts Council (PAC) has lined up the Gothard sisters to perform at the Orpheum Theatre/Wiegand Auditorium. This bundle of energy will put on two separate performances, one at 6 p.m. followed by another at 8 p.m. on Saturday evening.

Greta, Willow and Solana will just knock you away with a high energy performance of dancing and instrument playing.


On Friday the sixth annual Whoop-Up golf tournament at the Pondera Golf Club opens the weekend of fun. The four person scramble event tees off at 10 a.m. for 18 holes of the world’s best sport. A lunch is included in the entry fee and there are lots of individual prizes. For more information, contact the PGC, Terri Jo Fitzgerald at 278-3402.


Then on Saturday, the PGC will present a live outdoor concert with Smart Alex providing the tunes and music. It fires up the evening at 9 p.m.

This talented four person band from Kalispell performs bluegrass, classic rock, swing, blues, and country music. It other words it has something for everyone.

For this event, there will be free bus service beginning at 7 p.m. from the parking lot at the Pondera Village Shopping Center. You can’t beat a deal like this. Bring a lawn chair and your dancing feet.

There will be free beer until it’s gone. Those attending will have to purchase a $10 wristband. For more information, call the PGC at 278-3402.

For those that have some gambling in their blood, there will be a rodeo Calcutta on Friday at the Branding Iron beginning at 7 p.m.

Check it out and purchase a cowboy or two or three.

Saturday morning gets underway at the ‘crack of dawn’ when Lions Club members serve up their famous pancake and ham breakfast at Meadowlark School, 17 3rd Ave. SW beginning at 7 a.m.

This may be the biggest social gathering of the year, not to mention the best flat cakes you’ve ever tasted. So tie up the kerchief, grab your Stetson, put on your chaps and mosey on down to the breakfast. And the best part: It’s FREE!

At 8:30 a.m. runners and walkers can take part in the annual Pondera Medical Center 5K run – 1mile walk in the Whoop-Up Days Fun Run and Relay.

You can pre-register by using the entry form in the I-O or at the front of the courthouse at 20 4th Ave. SW. For more information, contact Charlene Bouma at the PMC, 271-3211.

And what is a parade without a Grand Marshall. The Chamber of Commerce and Conrad Lions Club are pleased to announce that Elmer Philipps will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 72nd annual Whoop-Up Trail Days Celebrations.

A Conrad native, Philipps was born and raised in the same house in 1927, 85 years ago. Now one of his sons is taking on the house, three generations of Philipps in the same place.

He graduated from high school here and was drafted into the U.S. Army, just missing the Korean War.

In 1952 he got married and is still married to the same wonderful lady. Together they have seven children.

Phillips is still active, 16 years, with the local Food Pantry. He got started doing volunteer work there by Jake and Martha Egeler.

He admits that he is about ready to retire, back problems make it none too easy to lift heavy boxes of food that need to be unloaded.

Philipps still has a neat sense of humor. He laughs as he noted his name was spelled wrong on the Whoop-Up poster, “It’s not Phillips 66,” a big gas company.

All this leads into the Whoop-Up Children’s parade which begins at 9:30 a.m. Judging and lineup is at 9 a.m. in front of Meadowlark School.

Once it gets going, the parade marchers will head down Main St to Seventh Ave. and disband at the Conrad Lions Swimming Pool Park.

There are four divisions; 1. Best Costume. 2. Best Pet. 3. Best entry on wheels (non bikes), and 4. Best bikes.

For more information, contact Melinda Russett at the Chamber of Commerce 271-7791.

Settle in and park yourself on the curbside for the start of the General Parade at 10:30 a.m. Judging and lineup takes place at 9:30 a.m. sharp.

Division A; floats and groups need to assemble on the east county road alongside the baseball fields.

Division B; bands marching groups, drill teams and clowns should be in line at the Legion Park.

Division C; cars should assemble at Michigan and 7th Ave. and Division D; horses and driving rigs should come together at Iowa and 8th Ave., by the American Legion ball field. The parade assembles at the baseball complex and will head down Seventh Ave., north on Main St. and go to Second Ave. South and go west, preceding to Sunset Blvd. and past the PMC to disband.

The parade route was established to accommodate the residents of the Horizon Lodge and the PMC-Extended Care Unit.

For more information, contact the CofC at 271-7791.

For up and coming Cowboys and Cowgirls, the Stick Horse Rodeo will be at the front entrance to the rodeo grounds and is a free event and gets underway at 11:30 a.m.

Contact Robert Rohrer for more information at 278-5756.

Young Buckaroos can sign up for the Mutton Bustin’ event at Gustafson Law offices at 400 S. Main or call them at 278-7521.

There is no entry fee for the riders, but youngsters must be less than 50 pounds to participate.

Each day of the rodeo will also feature steer riders between the age of 8-13 and they will jackpot their $10 entry fee to be awarded after the Sunday rides.

The rodeo grounds open at 11:30 a.m. and the rodeo action starts at 1 p.m. Once again Jacobs Livestock will provide the livestock which is some of the best in all of northcentral Montana. His bucking bulls and high flying horses are ready to challenge the Cowboy athletes.

The rodeo is associated with the Northern Rodeo Association (NRA) and is also being co-sponsored by Native American Cowboys.

The rodeo clown will be the county’s own Z-man, Zane Drishinski.

If you are new to town or just visiting, the rodeo grounds are located one mile east of Conrad on the Sollid Road. Turn left and go three miles north and just across the railroad tracks is the entrance to the rodeo grounds.

Sunday the rodeo slack starts at 8 a.m. and the Lions Club cook shack will be cookin’ up a ham and eggs and pancake breakfast along with a cup of Joe to get your day going. Rodeo action starts at 1 p.m.

Sunday is also the second year of “turn the hill pink”. For everyone that comes to the rodeo wearing pink on Sunday, the Lions Club will donate $1 to the Conrad Cancer Foundation.

All the proceeds from the rodeo are used by the Lions Club for community benefit programs.

Come on out this weekend and be a part of the great American heritage; the rodeo. See ya there pard!