BILLINGS — On Saturday, three events in the Billings area were back on after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic: Springfest at the Moss Mansion, Billings firefighters' Fill the Boot and the Threshing Bee at the Huntley Project Museum.
The grounds at the Moss Mansion Museum in Billings were alive with the 32nd annual Springfest. Normally, the event kicks off the festival season at the start of spring, but it was pushed back this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Normally, we kick off the whole festival season the first week in June. Now we're happy to cap it off. We just thought it would be a good move for us, just knowing how many people there would be and holding off until a little later in the year when we knew it would be safer," said Jenna Peete, executive director at Moss Mansion.
People could start the morning off with a pancake breakfast before seeing some dance and musical entertainment while browsing arts and crafts vendors around the grounds.
The festival acts as a fundraiser for the museum. Each year, the Billings Preservation Society, the nonprofit that owns and operates the museum, has to raise money to keep the operation running.
"We're always working on anything that has to do with preserving the home. If you don't have the building in good shape, then you can't protect what's in it. There's a long list of constant activities. We're particularly excited about the work that we've done in the last year thanks to state Senate Bill 338. So when you come to the Moss, you'll see some things looking pretty good," Peete said.
Some of the finished projects at the museum include: refinishing the flooring on the second floor, fixing water damage in the second-floor guest room, patching up the roof, modernizing electrical wiring throughout the entire house and replacing the flooring in the basement.
Peete said they hope to have Springfest back at its regular June time next year.
Over in the Billings Heights, at the corner of Hilltop Road and Main Street, Billings firefighters volunteered to help Fill the Boot for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
"This is great. You see people every year. They are happy to see you. You get a little bit of a snippet of a conversation with everyone that you talk to and it's just happy to see everybody. I'm happy, they're happy, it's great. They know what we're doing and we know what we're doing, helping kids out with the Muscular Dystrophy Associaiton, I think that just gives everyone a big smile," said Cameron Abell, an engineer for Billings Fire Department.
The Fill the Boot campaign started up in 1954, connecting fire departments across the country to help take donations in a firefighter boot from passing drivers on the street. The fundraising campaign has resulted in 11 new drugs to help people with neuromuscular diseases, according to the association's website.
The Billings firefighters had the goal this year to bring in $50,000 to donate to Muscular Dystrophy Association. They already had a leg up after the Billings police and fire charity baseball game brought in $2,100 to the firefighters, Abell said. The game brought in a total of $4,200. The police department's share was donated to the Billings Education Association.
Abell said the firefighters saw a lot of donations over the course of Friday and Saturday.
"It's looking good. I'm seeing a lot of happy faces and people are stopping to donate. It's a really good year this year," Abell said.
A few miles out of town at the Huntley Project Museum, the weather was perfect for the 32nd Annual Antique Tractor Show and Threshing Bee.
In the afternoon, people flocked to the museum grounds to get a look at all sorts of tractors and farm technology in action, with some dating back to the early 20th century.
Dick Tombrink was at the threshing bee with his restored 1923 CASE steam tractor. He was using the heat from its boiler to steam corn to give out to attendees. Tombrink has been a part of every threshing bee since its inception and serves as treasurer of the South Central Montana Antique Tractor and Machinery Association.
Tombrink said the tractors are fun for all ages.
"If you look at today, there's a lot of people here that enjoy this kind of stuff. We enjoy showing it to them. It's a challenge for us. You know, we find an old piece of machinery, we've got to figure out how to fix it and make it run again. As you get older, you need to keep yourself occupied doing something and this is a good hobby," Tombrink said.
People could also get a look at a variety of other displays, like a working blacksmiths shop, or watch a tractor pull.
The Threshing Bee will continue on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 770 Railroad Hwy. in Huntley. Visit the Huntley Project Museum website by clicking here for more information.