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With Evel Knievel days canceled, Uptown businesses feel the burn

Posted at 3:31 PM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-25 17:31:52-04

BUTTE – Evel Knievel Day was supposed to get fired up in Butte this week. But, it fizzled out.

“We’re really disappointed about Evel Knievel Days. I mean, that was a great event,” said Maloney’s Bar owner Gene Riordan.

Many Uptown businesses got a much needed economic boost from the three-day festival.

“We actually love Evel Days. The people are great, they’re great tippers, they’re fun; it’s our second busiest weekend of the year, so we’re really going to miss it this year,” said Alicia Novak, general manager of the Park and Main Café.

Organizers of the daredevil festival canceled it earlier this year due to lack of funding. Next to the Montana Folk Festival, Evel Knievel Days was the next largest event that drew business to bars and restaurants in Butte.

“I would have four bartenders per shift, I had security, I mean, their making good money from us, good money from tips and they’re spending all their money right back in Butte, Montana,” Riordan said.

And while not all businesses in Butte see an immediate effect from the festivals, some business owners say the exposure these festivals bring to the Mining City have long-term benefits.

“I think when a lot of people were Uptown, they were Uptown to listen to music, they weren’t coming up to necessarily eat. But a lot of people walked by and I heard them say, ‘oh, well that’s where the new Mongolian grill is,’ so, yeah, I think we get a lot of benefit long-term,” said OMG co-owner Tom Cronnelly.

Though business owners appreciate the money festivals like Evel Knievel Days brought, they hope their loyal customers keep them going through this weekend.

“Kind of wait and see, I guess. Yeah, that’s all we can do,” Novak said.

There’s still the Wild West Music Fest going on at the Copper King Hotel this weekend, and the An Ri Ra Irish festival coming in August.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News