Powwow canceled hours before opening night

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After weeks of logistical back-and-forth discussions between event organizers and Flathead County Fairgrounds officials, a four-day powwow that was scheduled to hit the grounds Thursday (tonight) at 7 p.m. has been canceled.

Earlier this week, Daily Inter Lake staff reached out to Bruce Grant, the primary organizer of the powwow, to confirm the event was proceeding as planned after receiving dozens of calls from potential attendees expressing their doubts over whether it was going to happen at all. Most callers pointed to a major lack in marketing and advertising for what has been described as a large, one-of-a-kind powwow honoring missing and murdered indigenous women.

Grant was unable to be reached by phone on Thursday by both the Daily Inter Lake and, for a portion of the day, officials with the fairgrounds. However, sources who have been in contact with Grant said he told them the event was canceled - a secondhand confirmation that Mark Campbell, manager of the fairgrounds, said he had been told as well.

Campbell sent out a press release Thursday afternoon announcing the cancellation.

“The contractor finally made the late decision today [to cancel] as he has been unable to provide insurance coverage to produce the event as expected,” the statement said.

During a phone call on Wednesday, Campbell said he was still waiting for Grant to provide the liability insurance. He said he had made contact with the company Grant was going through for the insurance and felt confident the necessary documents would come through by the end of Wednesday so preparation for opening night could ensue.

However, that insurance was never provided, and Campbell said without it, the grounds themselves and the potential spectators are not covered and thus, the event cannot take place.

“While the fairgrounds was ready and prepared for the activities, we sincerely regret any inconvenience to the community, efforts of those who’ve traveled a long distance to participate, and the short timing of this notice,” Campbell said in the press release.

Grant and his team had put down a deposit on the fairgrounds weeks ago, to the tune of 25 percent of the cost for the entire weekend. In the weeks that followed, he had seemed confident the event would occur to the scale he had imagined.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com

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