Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

Celebrating Hi-Line heritage

Benefit for Phillips County Livestock Association raises over $50k


October 16, 2019

Mark Hebert

Malta's Beckett and Calvin Squires, ages 8 and 5, smile for the camera in front of a United Property Owners of America "Save The Cowboy" poster at the Milk River Pavilion on Saturday.

If you plan it, they will come.

That was discovered by Katie Brown and the countless volunteers who hosted the first Hi-Line Heritage Celebration at the Milk River Pavilion in Malta last Saturday which raised over $50,000 to assist the Phillips County Livestock Association and other groups to help them cover costs associated with the American Prairie Reserve (APR) who are seeking a variance on a 2016 bison grazing ordinance passed in Phillips County which states "All bison/buffalo must be tested and certified, by a state veterinarian to be disease-free" and "bison/buffalo must be branded, tattooed, tagged or otherwise identified to track its health status."

After an event that lasted over 12-hours on Saturday, and featured meals, rodeo events, auctions, and a huge turnout, Brown told the PCN the support from people across the Hi-Line of Montana - and beyond - was overwhelming.

"My heart is so full from the support that poured in from all of our surrounding counties," she said. "I think our county has supported agriculture this whole time, they just didn't know how to help. This fundraiser gave them a concrete cause, and they definitely showed up and gave all they could. We are at $50,000 raised so far and the donations are still coming in!!! I have never been prouder than I am now. Of our entire community."

Ahead of the beginning of the event, cars slowly packed into the parking lot in the front of the Pavilion and behind the arena contestants in the day's several roping and team sorting events readied for action and reflected on the Hi-Line Heritage Celebration and why being at the event was important to them.

"We are going to save this sucker, and we need about 400 more events like it," said Malta's Jerey McEwen about locals and their ranches. "We just can't layover and do nothing and then say 'Wow, I wish I would have done something."

McEwen, whose family has ranched in Phillips County for generations says ranching is all he has ever known.

"It's too late to start over and too good to let go," he said. "I expect to have a good time and meet some new people."

Whitewater's Jett Anderson said that it was important to him to support the Cattle District as they try to help preserve local ranching and farming as a way of life.

"It is important in raising our kids up here and keeping on with our legacy with the fourth and fifth generations," Anderson said. "It means a lot. My grandparents (the Tant Anderson family, descendants of Ed Anderson who homesteaded in Phillips County) started all this and it means a lot to keep it going. This is a good cause and we want to stick up for what we live for and this is what we live for. If someone were to take it away it would be, basically, devastating. Honestly, I think farmers and ranchers manage the land and nobody can do it better than us...we live up north, but we need to stick together as a county and community."

Dewayne Ozark from Tampico, Mont., brought a total of 27 steers to the celebration for the roping events on Saturday and said he did because he believes in the fight for Montana's farmers and ranchers.

"I also believe the APR is a bunch of (expletive) and I think they are (expletives) that don't know what this life is all about," said Ozark.

Ozark said that the drive from Tampico to the Milk River Pavilion is exactly 55-miles long and said he would happily make the commute again.

"And I hope this is all very successful," he concluded.

Mark Hebert

Halee Bruckner, Saco; Leeila Oxarart, Malta; Anna Brown, Dodson; Tessa Brown, Saco, and Kesi Salveson, Malta, take a break from the festivities at the Hi-Line Heritage Celebration held in Malta on Saturday.

AS the night progressed to it's close, Brown told the PCN that all the volunteers associated with the event "gave their all then some" and some people showed up to just partake in the day's events and ended up lending a helping hand when needed.

"I couldn't have pulled this off without any of them," she said.

Earlier in the day, lunch was served by the Livestock Association who cooked 150 burgers and served them all. At supper, Mary Oxarart and her crew served around 375 people. Brown said she was not sure of a total headcount for the day, but was happy with the turnout and looks forward to more of them in the future.

"This is just the beginning, I am not done," Brown said. "My heart and roots are here in this community; I am invested and we are NOT going anywhere. We hope to help raise funds each year to go towards causes such as the ordinance. Keep watch, we're just getting started."


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