By Isabel Hicks, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
BIG SKY — Outlaw Partners’ music festival last weekend raised over $500,000 for river conservation, with the money going to benefit the local Gallatin River Task Force and national nonprofit American Rivers.
The Wildlands Festival held events last Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings in Big Sky. In total, the festival drew close to 9,000 people for live music shows and a panel with river conservationists.
The Foo Fighters and Lord Huron headlined the event, and actor Tom Skerritt from “A River Runs Through it” came to speak on the panel and get footage for a movie he’s making about river conservation efforts around the country.
While the festival raised $513,473 and counting for the river groups, Outlaw Partners CEO and festival director Eric Ladd said the event is about more than the money.
It’s about raising awareness, networking and inspiring others to take action for an important cause, Ladd said.
For example, Wade Fellin, an angler on the Big Hole River who started the group Save Wild Trout earlier this summer, was able to get connected to Skerritt at the event. Now, Skerritt’s movie crew plans to come back to Montana to highlight Fellin’s efforts to address trout population declines in area rivers.
“It’s the little magic nuggets that come out of doing an event like this. Beyond just money, it’s inspiring people to take action,” Ladd said.
With music on the weekend nights, the Friday event featured the panel, an auction, and sets from two comedians for the attendees. Employees served cocktails and appetizers while people browsed the auction items, which ranged from artwork to expensive guided trips in Yellowstone and Montana rivers.