COOKE CITY — Tourism is back to Yellowstone National Park and its gateway communities, and summer is about to sound a lot sweeter for Cooke City and Silver Gate.
A new music festival hopes to draw visitors and raise money for the community.
“I think I can say with confidence, there’s no mountain music festival with a better backdrop. We are at the foot of Republic Peak," said Steve Harvey, organizer of the Forgot Me Knot Festival.
The small, mountain towns came together in the aftermath of the floods, tightening community bonds, and Harvey hopes their first shot at a music festival will make that bond even tighter and raise some money for flood recovery.
"We’re doing two days, nine bands, mostly local. We have one band from Fort Collins, and one band from Sheridan," Harvey said. "All the rest are Montana bands.”
The festival, called Forget Me Knot Fest, is planned for Aug. 18 and Aug. 19, and Harvey expects it will bring a boost of tourism to the small communities that sit next to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
“I’m very much looking forward to the summer and being busy and having guests sitting outside having fun," said Chris Conway, manager of Silver Gate Lodging.
May was a busy month over at Silver Gate Lodging and summer reservations are already filling up, signaling a return to normalcy.
“May historically has been getting busier and busier for the last five or six years," Conway said, noting that their reservations were nearly full last month.
After the floods, Silver Lodging offered a pay-what-you-can rate to attract tourists to the area. Conway said that special will return for Montana and Wyoming residents during the week of the music festival.
“For pay-what-you-can if you live in the area. So Billings, Red Lodge, Helena, come out and have fun, it will be mostly locals in Silver Gate that weekend, so it will be a lot of fun," Conway said.
Traffic to the park is the lifeblood for the towns, but Harvey said part of the goal for the Forget Me Knot Festival is to make Cooke City and Silver Gate the destination.
“A lot of people just pass through Cooke City and Silver Gate, it’s a gateway town. Part of our priority is to make this a destination so people will come here, stay here, play here," Harvey said.
Information about the festival, including ticket purchases, can be found here.