Alpine Artisans' inaugural In the Footsteps of Norman Maclean Festival was a satisfying success for hundreds of literary fans of Montana's most famous author. The festival drew visitors to Seeley Lake on July 10-13, 2015 from over 18 states, Canada and the United Kingdom, exceeding our expectations. Governor Steve Bullock opened the Festival on Saturday morning, detailing how Maclean's literature affected him as a young man. Keynote speaker Pete Dexter entertained the crowd with his memories of Maclean's reaction to the fascinating article Dexter wrote about him in 1981 (“he said he hated it!”). Norman's son John Maclean took us back to when the Maclean cabin was first built in 1922 on the shores of Seeley Lake, and using numerous photographs, shared how important that cabin was to the family. Norman Maclean's grandson, Noah Snyder, shared intimate memories and reflection on his grandfather – both as a rough neck Montanan and as a Shakespearean scholar.
One of the strongest aspects of the festival was the personal memories shared by friends, neighbors, and former students of Maclean. Sunday's focus on Maclean's Young Men and Fire offered new scholarship on the literature by Alan Thomas, Maclean's editor at The University of Chicago Press, solid commentary by other Maclean scholars and personal memories of the impact of the Mann Gulch Fire by retired smokejumpers.
Visitors were able to experience the beauty of the Seeley Lake area during a tour of Jocko Wildland Fire sites and Blackfoot tributary stewardship projects. Big Blackfoot Riverkeeper Jerry O'Connell led two popular tours of Maclean's four favorite fishing sites on the Blackfoot. Those who participated in the two full-day tours of the tragedy of Mann Gulch found that hike to be both spiritual and inspirational. Press coverage was widespread, drawing writers from across the state and from The Telegraph of London. The festival is grateful to our primary sponsors, including Tourism Montana and The Orvis Company.
Just as this first festival unearthed new information on Maclean's literature, the second Maclean Festival will focus on the making of the movie, A River Runs Through It. Alpine Artisans will produce this second festival in conjunction with the Montana Film Office. Look forward to meeting dozens of people who made brought Maclean's little 'blue book' to the big screen: producers, actors, stunt persons, writers and more in September of 2017! That's when the fishing is good, the days are still warm, and the mountains are beautiful.
Friday Evening Dinner on the Blackfoot
Festival Photos - Saturday and Sunday
Mann Gulch Tour
~ 2015 Maclean Festival photos by Lindsay Atnip ~
These six short videos were created by Seeley Lake Elementary School 7th Graders Sam Weisenberger, Terra Bertsch and Blake Lindemer. The first two videos feature audio of Norman Maclean's voice reading from A River Runs Through It from the audio recording titled On the Big Blackfoot. Permission to use those audio excerpts was given by John Maclean and High Bridge, a division of Recorded Books. The second video features the artwork of members of Alpine Artisans, Inc. the non-profit who is producing the In the Footsteps of Norman Maclean Festival. The “It's Time” videos reflect the current theme of Tourism Montana.