MISSOULA - The biggest party in Montana this weekend will be at the University of Montana’s Schreiber Gym, as the 104th Forester’s Ball resumes after a two-year pandemic hiatus.
Students and alumni from the College of Forestry have been hard at work this week, transforming the gym into an 1890s logging town, including a barbershop, jail, and chapel.
The two-night event starts at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and costs $15 for students and $20 for the public. Tickets are available online.
University of Montana senior Mason Banks, who has led the construction of the ball, expressed worry that the tradition may not continue.
“Not having it for two years was hard,” Banks said. “If it didn’t happen this year, II don’t know if it would have happened next year.”
The construction of the set serves as a lesson for the forestry students as well.
The decorative trees were culled from Lubrecht Experimental Forest as a part of their fire management plan, and other lumber for the set pieces was donated. All will be composted after the party.
The Forester’s Ball is a fundraiser for the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, primarily funding scholarships for the students.
Sophomore Koson Verkler said he’s helping build this year because of the skills he’s learning from alumni volunteers.
“Driving nails is one thing but being able to network with people who’ve been in my shoes five to 25 years ago is super valuable,” Verkler said. “One thing I worry about is having a job when I graduate, but talking to all of these alumni, I can get a job with them just because of this.”
For many of the forestry students working hard this week, it’s about keeping the 104-year tradition alive.
The theme is “A Swingin' Good Time!” and the attire is sure to include flannels, jeans, boots, overalls and cowboy hats.