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Missoulians hunt for gnomes while picking up trash during "Gnomefest"

Handmade clay gnomes are hidden around public parks
"Gnomefest" clay gnomes incentivize litter clean-up
Posted at 3:09 PM, May 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-23 14:11:14-04

MISSOULA — If you're out and about at one of Missoula’s many public parks and you see a magical creature, you might want to take a second look.

Hidden in tree crevices are dozens of gnomes made of earth-toned clay so they blend in. "Gnomefest" is an imaginative spin on cleaning up the public parks by local kombucha company, Back to the Mother.

“So originally Gnomefest was part of a summer camp program that I helped develop in Pennsylvania," Drew Holman, Back to the Mother Co-Founder, explained. "Ever since then I've always wanted to bring that to Missoula."

Holman said the idea sprang from a need to incentivize kids to clean up litter at the camp.

Beginning on April 22, Earth Day, a crew placed close to 270 handmade gnomes and 1,000 palm stones in parks around Missoula. The point is to provide a tangible reward for picking up trash.

Clay gnomes made to incentivize trash clean-up

“We've had lots of engagement with our social media platforms, and we'll see lots of people with bags of trash as they're out hunting, and I feel like I've noticed the parks seem a little cleaner,” Holman said.

Certain gnomes come with prizes. If you find one holding a coin, you’ve won a prize worth one bitcoin in value! You can also win kombucha and other prizes.

“Participation is really easy. I mean, really just keeping your eyes peeled for these objects, but really it's taking more accountability for these public lands that we all share,” Holman said.

"Gnomefest" is set to become a yearly tradition.

“It's kind of our way of giving back to our community. We're a small business here, we started from scratch, and we've been able to slowly bootleg and grow ourselves, to the point of sustainability, and we're just so grateful to be part of the Missoula community,” Holman said.

Holman told MTN News there are still plenty of gnomes out there to be discovered. If you see one, make sure to post it on social media with the hastag #gnomefestmissoula.

To learn more details about prizes and guidelines for Gnomefest, click here.