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The 39th annual Bitter Root Day is a cultural heritage event built around one small flower and the friendship that brings two different cultures together for a celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Ravalli County Museum.

The Bitter Root Valley is the homeland of the Salish Tribe who currently reside on the Flathead Reservation in Western Montana. The People’s Center, the tribal museum in Polson, help coordinate this event.

Ravalli County Museum Marketing Executive Sarah Monson said she is thrilled to be part of the festivity.

“It does my heart good to be part of an event that includes learning from and visiting with our tribal friends from the Flathead Nation,” Monson said. “I am so thrilled they continue to join us every year.”

The Bitter Root Day celebration includes Traditional Salish dancers and drummers and the People’s Center Museum display and raffle, which this year is two 14-inch moose hide hand drums painted by Jordan Stasso. Tickets available on the museums website and benefit The People’s Center.

There will also be arts, crafts, food and produce from local and out of area vendors and free children’s activities.

As part of fundraising for the museum Bitter Root plants will be for sale.

The Bitter Root flower is Montana’s state flower. It was voted on in 1893 at the World’s Fair in Chicago. Out of 5,857 ballots 3,671 people voted for the Bitter Root to become the state flower.

The Salish revere the flower as a gift from the Creator and its appearance in spring is honored through celebration and feasts.

The Ravalli County Museum also has two signature competitions for jerky and recycle crafts.

The jerky competition is in its seventh year and is a wild game that’s been going on since the buffalo roamed. Anyone can enter their homemade, mouth-watering bits of chewy, jerky goodness from any meat – lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, buffalo or other. The deadline to enter the jerky competition is Friday, June 7. The entry form is on the museum website but the rules say to submit eight strips or bits of each type of jerky in a Ziploc bag with a separate entry form.

The winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 8. The prizes include a food dehydrator from Evan’s Ace Hardware, two Yeti cups from Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply (Hamilton), and a collection of jerky spices from Hamilton’s Marketplace. The jerky competition sponsor is Big League Builders.

The recycle crafts competition is to re-create, re-purpose, re-use, repeat or create something practical, technological and/or beautiful out of something that would ordinarily end up in the landfill. Deadline to enter is Friday, June 7, forms are available on the museum’s website. Drop off your finished piece, with your application at the Ravalli County Museum, 205 Bedford, in Hamilton. For more information, contact the museum at 406-363-3338.

The recycled items will be on display during the Bitter Root Day event where the public will vote. Winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, prizes include a handmade gift basket with a T-shirt, two hours of truck share time and a gift certificate from O’Hara Commons & Sustainability Center and a $50 gift certificate from Habitat for Humanity of Ravalli County.

Bitter Root Day was started by Ravalli County Museum in 1980 by Henry Hamilton Grant to raise awareness and preserve the beautiful state flower. Grant, also known as, “Mr. Bitter Root” devoted much of his life to the cultivation and study of the Bitter Root.

Monson said Bitter Root Day is special.

“It’s hard to believe we are approaching the 40-year mark for this event,” Monson said. “It’s gone through a lot of changes. What began as an exhibit opening that happened to include bitter root flowers as decoration is now a festival that is thriving and growing.”

The 39th annual Bitter Root Day event is sponsored by Trail West Bank, Big League Builders, Beck Builders, Habitat for Humanity of Ravalli County, O’Hara Commons & Sustainability Center, Ravalli County Recycling, Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply, Evan’s Ace Hardware and Hamilton’s Marketplace in cooperation with The People’s Center.

For more information visit ravallimuseum.org.

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