The Red Lodge Festival of Nations
A Memoir

by Betsy Scanlin

published by Betsy Scanlin

produced by Sweetgrass Books

  • Attendees and participants will remember all the dazzling colors the highly-embroidered Old World costumes, the flower-bedecked parade floats, and the international flags lining Broadway as well literally hundreds of them strung high in the ceiling of the Veterans Memorial Civic Center, whose dedication in 1950 was the inspiration for the next sixty-seven years of Red Lodge’s annual hometown reunion celebrating the mix of cultures that made our town such a unique place to grow up in, to visit, and to remember.

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ISBN 10: 1591523028
ISBN 13: 978-1591523024





The Red Lodge Festival of Nations
A Memoir

The Red Lodge Festival of Nations align=

Betsy Scanlin align= The author was raised in Red Lodge, Montana, although born on her family’s way out from Maine. In the late 1940’s, her father, a Congregational minister, came to address the economic and emotional depression of the area suffering from loss of men in World War II, the Smith Coal Mine disaster in nearby Washoe in 1943 that claimed 75 lives, and the end of the coal industry in the area. Many widows were left to raise fatherless children, including classmates of the author. In 1950, Red Lodge celebrated the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Civic Center, with each of the local ethnic groups participating by showing off each’s culture with performances and exhibits. This was the birth of the Red Lodge Festival of Nations, which officially formed later that year and existed in its original form, performing in the Civic Center, for over 50 years.

The Festival eventually moved to other venues in a different format as the original founders passed on, and officially ended in 2017 with remaining funds dedicated to a scholarship fund. The author’s family participated in the Festival for over 50 years, her father as master of ceremonies for the evening performances, her mother a German Day cook, her husband hung international flags, and her children danced in many of the different nights of the Festival. Although of German and Irish/Scottish decent, the author played in the Veseli Tamburitza (Slavic) Orchestra, a collection of double-stringed Old World instruments, for 34 years. After spending time in Helena, MT, and New York City, she raised her children in Red Lodge and still lives with her husband there in a home three blocks, on the same street, from the parsonage she grew up in.

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