Western Art Week rescheduled for September with first time combined event of three major shows

Western Art Week has been rescheduled for Sept. 10-12 and will house three of the biggest shows under one roof at the Pacific Steel and Recycling Arena at Montana Expo Park.

The C.M. Russell Museum events and auction, The Out West Art Show & Sale and The Great Western Show have collaborated for the first time to combine all of their events in one space for the major event that had to be rescheduled from its typical March dates due to COVID-19.

Tom Figarelle, the museum’s executive director, said it’s been a difficult and strange few weeks as the community and the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic but that the museum staff and organizers of the other two shows had conversations that led to the combined event for September.

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“We’re excited for that. This is truly within the spirit of Charlie Russell. Charlie loved his friends,” Figarelle said, and the artist turned to those friends in good times and difficult times.

“We, as friends in the western art community, are coming together.”

The museum’s event schedule will be similar to past events, with one notable change. The live auction will be an afternoon event instead of the typical evening event, according to Duane Braaten, director of art and philanthropy at the museum.

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Braaten said museum staff are contacting ticket holders from the March event to transfer their tickets to the September events.

The auction art work is all safe and sound hanging on the gallery walls at the museum and will be available for public viewing once the museum is able to reopen to the public, he said.

John Godwin of the Out West show said every booth space will be used and they’ll be open for a preview night on Sept. 10 and then all weekend. He said their working on some other events like quick draws for the new dates.

Chuck Fulcher of The Great Western Show said his vendors are excited that they’ll get to see the live auction as part of the combined event.

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“There’s just an energy you can’t even explain to be there unless you’ve been there,” Fulcher said. “This is going to be quite a unique experience.”

Rebecca Engum of Great Falls Tourism said her office has been in touch with the other show organizers and they’re working to help them reschedule their shows.

They “do see a lot of interest” in getting the other events scheduled for the new Western Art Week dates, she said.

Figarelle said he hopes the new dates for Western Art Week give Great Falls and the western art community something to look forward to.