Last Best Outdoor Fest launches in Livingston

by Zoe Zandora, MTN News

LIVINGSTON – At the second annual Last Best Outdoor Fest Friday at the Livingston Civic Center, the focus was on women and their role in Montana’s outdoor economy.

It was a day of celebration of jobs and Montana’s economy, hosted by Montana’s Outdoors, Artemis, Mountain Mamas and Montana Wildlife Federation.

In a day filled with food trucks, beer gardens and live music, the festival started with a panel discussion. The keynote speaker was former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“What we heard about today are women who are growing thriving businesses here in Montana, because they value the quality of life and or their businesses are tied to the outdoors,” Jewell said. “I also learned that while employment can be difficult in some of the smaller communities… that’s changing over time. People want to live here, and that is something that Montana has that very few other states can say.”

Jewell was joined by speaker and panel moderator, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, to learn more about local outdoor businesses and the women behind them.

“It was just really an opportunity to showcase some of the businesses we have in Montana, that are women-owned that are very successful,” Tester said. “I asked some questions about what would drive you out and what are your biggest challenges, and what do you like about this place? I got a kick out of one lady said that said if she couldn’t make money doing the business she had, she would change her business and figure out something else to do.”