New Downtown Helena Festival aims to expand Vigilante Day celebrations

Vigilante Parade.jpg
Posted at 4:13 PM, Apr 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-11 18:13:12-04

HELENA — Downtown Helena has announced a new festival that coincides with the Vigilante Day Parade and aims to extend the fun all weekend.

Gold Rush Days take place Friday, May 5 through Sunday, May 7, 2023 and will be comprised of over 40 individual events scattered throughout downtown. The all-ages-friendly weekend focuses on bringing Helena’s history to life.

Downtown Helena says most events will be free and begin immediately after the Vigilante Parade. Cancan dancers will perform old-fashioned numbers all weekend. A bright red old-timey jail-on-wheels, called “the hoosegow,” will take anyone wanting to go for a trip around town.

“Visit Helena believes in grassroots organizations celebrating the heritage and history of Helena, Montana,” says Brandon Pendergast, Sales and Marketing Manager for Visit Helena. “We are happy to partner with Downtown Helena Inc. and Gold Rush Days to promote the vibrancy of our community through Visit Helena’s Tourism Event Grant. Visit Helena encourages all Montanans to explore our rich history and hopes to see the community interact with this living history event this coming May.”

People can visit for an event schedule and more information.

Some of the over 40 events include:

  • Quick Draw and Art Auction
  • 5K Gold Color Run
  • Golden Rock Painting and Scavenger Hunt
  • Open Air Market
  • Pasty Crawl
  • Stories from our Elders
  • Trivia on the Trolley
  • Dog Rush Days
  • Distillery Tours
  • Historical Fashion Wine Walk
  • Live Music and Beer/Wine Garden
  • Costume Crawl
  • Comedy Dinner Theater
  • Burlesque Show

“Helena has such a rich history, and we are looking forward to showing off Downtown for the inaugural Gold Rush Days event,” says Jordan Conley, Operations Director of Downtown Helena, Inc. “We are grateful for the support of like-minded sponsors and participants, including the Foundation for Montana History, Visit Helena, the Montana Club, and the Helena Indian Alliance. Our goal is to make this a signature annual event.”

Wherever event-goers find themselves, they can always get a safe ride home. The Home Free program, offered to bars through the Tri-County Licensed Beverage Association, offers free rides from select establishments. Patrons simply have to ask the bartender.