Last Best Outdoors Fest to celebrate outdoor women

Johnathan Hettinger —
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Photo courtesy of Last Best Outdoors Fest

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester visits with the crowd gathered at the Last Best Outdoors Fest Aug. 22, 2017.

The Last Best Outdoor’s Fest, which includes live music, a panel discussion and speeches by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, will take place Friday in Livingston.

The theme of this year’s event, which is free and open to the public, is the role women business leaders play in strengthening Montana’s outdoor economy, which is valued at $7 billion and provides 70,000 jobs statewide.

Kathy Weber, with Business for Montana’s Outdoors and public relations director of Last Best Outdoors Fest, said public lands are “a huge driver for innovation” in Montana and are important in providing new opportunities for women’s leadership.

“Women entrepreneurs are leading the way when it comes to innovative businesses and business models,” Weber said.

The day kicks off at 3 p.m. at the Livingston Civic Center, where Tester, Jewell and mountaineer Conrad Anker will oversee a panel of six women who work in Montana’s outdoor industry. The discussion will focus on issues like how the Land and Water Conservation Fund — which is set to expire Sept. 30 — could impact small businesses.

Following the hourlong discussion, Miles Park will feature live music from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., as well as food trucks and a local beer garden.

At 5 p.m., Tester and Jewell, the keynote speakers, will address the crowd from the bandshell.

Before serving as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Jewell served as CEO of Recreational Equipment.

As continuation of the theme of women outdoors, the live music will feature The Two Tracks and Little Jane & the Pistol Whips, two women-led bands.

“We wanted to showcase not only women in business, but also provide a stage for these rising female-led bands,” said Weber.

The event, which started last year in Columbia Falls and had about 1,000 people, is sponsored by Business for Montana’s Outdoors, the Montana Mountain Mamas, the National Wildlife Association’s Artemis sportswomen initiative, and the Montana Wildlife Federation.