Billings Gazette Press Article “Can’t wait for Next Year”
We cannot wait until next year.
That’s why we should get the deal done now — bring back the All Nations Indian Relay Championships. The four-day event held last weekend at MetraPark brought plenty of folks to town to see what will hopefully be an annual event.
We hope folks in Billings realize: This could be something big. And the community has a chance to be a part of that. Let’s not sit around. Let’s get this unique event back in Billings to stay awhile.
Event promoters reported very good success during the weekend event.
The Billings Gazette’s Jordon Niedermeier reported, “The weekend’s total purse surpassed $78,000, the largest in the three-year history of the Professional Indian Horse Relay Association. PIHRA officials reported about 15,000 tickets sold over the four days of the event. The relays were successful enough to put more money in the pockets of relay teams than expected and invest in the sanctioning body’s future.”
Beyond the competition and helping to raise funds to expand the event, this brought revenue into town. It’s events like these that bring folks who stay in motels, eat at restaurants, shop at stores. Moreover, it adds to the entertainment options in Billings as well as gives local residents — and those not too far away — another choice.
And Billings should have an event like this. We have covered and watched hundreds of people attend a similar event at Crow Fair every summer. With our rich Native cultural heritage in the area, this event could also help us promote our area’s history better.
The Gazette covered the relays throughout the weekend, including spectacular online photo galleries by photographer Hannah Potes, and had several people calling to say they wanted even more coverage. It was an event that seemed to generate even more interest than organizers and planners had expected.
So this is the question: What can Billings and the rest of the community do to make sure this event continues to come here? What can we do to expand this to make it something to celebrate the cultures and participants? How can this be a more permanent part of our offerings?
These are the types of events — beyond just big-name concerts — that will help Billings continue to capitalize on our diverse tourism offerings. It’s not just the concerts. It’s not just shopping. It’s not just dining. It’s all the offerings that will help continue to draw folks from a wider and wider area. The more we grow our cultural and entertainment offerings, the money will be pumped into our local economy.
So, for those in Billings who keep on repeating the same tired line: There’s nothing to do here.
Those folks just aren’t looking hard enough.