(Belgrade, Montana) The funny thing about flying into Bozeman, Montana is that there were no rental vehicles available given a client's short notice (24 hours prior) to booking; and since about April when all the rental car companies filed bankruptcy, there haven't been.
Budget car rental was willing to let a suburban go for $600/night, but even billed directly to the client that was out of the question.
Luckily one of the local casinos had advertised free shuttle service; there was also no such thing as an Uber, Lyft or even general taxi service and downtown is a bit far to walk. But that casino was across the street from the Comfort Inn and the college kid driving the shuttle didn't even notice when I walked into the parking lot, and not into the hotel.
Flying into Montana for the first time ever, it's easy to see why the show "Yellowstone" was a hit; it's flipping beautiful. I really didn't understand $500K single-wides on two acres until now.
It was dry, and it was a bit hazy. Bozeman had experienced their own wildfires the week prior; luckily no injuries; reports said nearly 7,000 acres were engulfed. When we landed Friday the Oregon and Northern California fires were raging; they'd end up wiping out the views by Monday as smoke rolled east.
Event production has been strange since COVID hit. You're faced with the prospects of not doing them on principle, or shutting down completely and perhaps never reopening your doors. Sometimes clients have decided to move on as safely as possible, but this is neither the forum, nor the place to discuss those decisions. We all make our own choices to travel; sometimes it's just because we have to; other times it's because you have a serious fear that if you don't there may not be another chance.
But each morning the day resets. The earth knows nothing of our human struggles, and the sun still comes up. That morning the sun came up bright red over the mountains in the east.
Any sailor knows "Red Sky At Morning, Sailor Take Warning" - and it's usually a sign of a pending storm. For this area of the country, it was a sign of an incoming cloud of smoke from Oregon and California. The ride out to the Yellow Barn in Belgrade was still gorgeous, and you can't help but to sing a little bit about the purple mountains and fruited plains. The advance team had picked a wonderful setting - straight out of a Hollywood movie.
It was a small setup as far as what we would normally be doing this time of year goes; and getting a chance to talk to the property owner at the venue, local farmers and the clients about the state of the industry is part of what we love about travel, human connection, and production. But when the crane pulled up, the photographer in me got a bit excited. Who didn't want to be a crane operator when they were a child? I know I did.
So as we built our own smaller box for the state flag of Montana, the operators from Montana Crane Service got to do something they probably don't do a lot; they rigged a 50' version of Old Glory up to the boom and started swinging it thru the sky. I took a break from building flag boxes and frames and ran out into the potato field. The result is something that just is; a huge flag, flying over a beautiful setting, with about ten people around who got to see it that morning.
Until we have a chance to visit again, we'll certainly miss those mountains. Thank you to everyone who pitched in on this event. Thank you for being smart, safe, and ensuring that when we need to, we can pull these things off. It seems this is built into your DNA; at least from the photos displayed in the Big Yellow Barn.
We'll be publishing more content like this over at our new Youtube home, "The Event Production Channel" - give it a like, subscribe, or share your comments if you'd like. Last pic: something I haven't seen since growing up on a farm in central Ohio, a classic, still-used Gleaner/Baldwin Combine by Allis Chalmers; can't imagine how much chaff you'd inhale on that seat, but it probably beats doing it with a steam engine, or by hand.