Lewis and Clark Festival, Luminaria Walk is Aug. 25 in Gibson Park

Native American dancers, a black powder rifle demonstration, and live music throughout the day are just a few of the activities and sights in store for visitors at this year’s 29th annual Lewis and Clark Festival, organized by the Lewis and Clark Foundation, in Gibson Park.

The festival, which was scheduled for June, was moved to Aug. 25 due to rain.

Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, along with Sacagawea and the Corps of Discovery, spent nearly a month in the Great Falls area in 1805, encountering one of their biggest obstacles–the series of waterfalls known as the Great Falls of the Missouri.

The Lewis and Clark Festival re-creates the adventures and hardships of life in the 1805 frontier encountered by the Corps of Discovery.

Thanks to sponsors such as U.S. Bank and the Portage Route Chapter, Saturday’s festival events are free to the public. The Honor Guard kicks off the day at 9:45 a.m. with a black powder salute among the shade trees and open space of Gibson Park. 

A highlight of the 2018 Festival is Native American dancers and drummers performing at noon and 3 p.m. Several musicians and groups will also perform during the day in the band shell, including Peter and Molly Wilson, Jeni Dodd, Thorn Amongst Roses, and Jeff Christensen. 

Children’s activities throughout the day include story-telling with Buddy, a live Newfoundland dog representing Seaman, the dog owned by Meriwether Lewis. Lewis purchased Seaman for $20, a large sum of money 200 years ago. He served as a good hunter and guard dog during the expedition. 

Children are also encouraged to bring a trade good and hone their bartering skills with a seasoned trader at the trade blanket.

The nationally renowned Lewis and Clark Honor Guard will, throughout the day, fire many of the weapons used by the explorers. The Honor Guard will fire all of the reproduction firearms in a spectacular Saturday afternoon program at 4 p.m., including detailed explanations of where they were acquired, and their use during the expedition. All of the firearms will be loaded and fired with a blank charge. As a staple of military units and a necessity of survival, firearms were essential for the Corps of Discovery. 

The Lewis and Clark Honor Guard will give presentations in period dress every hour, in the Council Lodge Presentation Area. Two conjoined tipis form the “stage” for each program, as was the historical tradition among some of the Native tribes in the area.

A few of the programs include Firestarting and Other Fun Activities, Selling the Indian Nations on their New Trading Partner, and Geological Discoveries of Lewis and Clark

Casey Wiley will also demonstrate how to skin a beaver. Another popular venue is the Native lodge encampment, with several Native tipis, including a Quill Tipi from Jeremy Red Eagle.

Several artisans with jewelry, minerals, metal art, wooden bowls and artwork will exhibit their trades. The fine arts and crafts area will feature many unique items for sale. Food concessions will also cater to the crowds, featuring Indian tacos, burgers, and other food items.

The festivities continue at 7 p.m. as the River’s Edge Trail hosts its popular Luminaria Walk, with food, music, and a host of other activities along the River’s Edge Trail. The Trail will be lit from Gibson Park and proceed under the tunnel across the Missouri River via the pedestrian bridge, and into West Bank Park. Folks can turn around and continue back the one-mile journey to Gibson Park.

The festival is Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Gibson Park. The Luminaria Walk continues until 11 p.m.

For more information on all of the Lewis and Clark Festival activities, visit www.lewisandclarkfoundation.org, or call the Lewis and Clark Foundation at (406) 452-5661.