Fishing and Other Fine Arts

Fly fishers often draw comparisons to artists, thanks to a certain Robert Redford film from the early 1990s. But if you want to interact with more conventional artists, head to Wild Rose in Park in Ennis for the 12th Annual Madison Valley Arts Festival on August 11. Three weeks later at the Fifth Annual Ennis on the Madison Fly Fishing Festival August 31-September 1, you can judge for yourself whether looping casts and hand-tied flies constitute art as well.

Everything from pottery to paintings will be on display at booths at Wild Rose Park for the arts festival. Margie Reck, Chairwoman of the committee that selects the 30-40 artists for the arts and craft show, said she expects mostly hand-made jewelry. Festival organizers require that the artists sell their work in person. Ten area authors will also be on hand for a book signing. Face painting for children and live entertainment complement the all-day event.

The 30-year old Ennis Arts Association started the festival to raise money for student scholarships and other art initiatives in the Madison Valley. The public can buy raffle tickets to support the organization. Among the prizes is a print from Ennis artist Larry Zabel.

By the time Labor Day weekend rolls around, most anglers will probably have driven through or near Ennis countless times to fish the renowned Madison River. Close to 1,500 of them will come back for the Ennis on the Madison Fly Fishing Festival.

Fly fishing experts from around the country will converge on Main Street and Wild Rose Park for lectures and seminars on casting, fly tying, and a host of other issues related to wildlife and conservation. Stumped about Spring Creeks? Mike Lawson from Henry’s Fork Anglers might be of help. Having trouble with the double haul? Bob and Cezanne Alexander of Madison Fly Casting will be there to improve your technique. Other speakers and instructors include Jerry Kustich of Sweetgrass Rod Company and Dan and Nancy Delekta of Beartooth Outfitters. Mike Lawson of Henry’s Fork Anglers will deliver the keynote address at the Foundation’s Gala Banquet on Friday night.

A children’s program on Friday will feature crafts and beginning casting classes. The event wraps up on Saturday night with a barbeque and music as well as a drawing for a drift boat. Other raffle prizes include tackle, autographed books, and float trips.

Proceeds from the raffle and a banquet on Friday night benefit the Madison River Foundation (MRF), which was founded to protect the Madison River ecosystem. Over the past two years, money raised from the festival has contributed 45% of the foundation’s revenues, according to MRF board member John Duncan. The drift boat raffle alone has contributed over $20,000 to Foundation efforts over the past three years. The Foundation has undertaken a variety of restoration projects on Madison River tributaries like Grayling and Wigwam Creek that offer crucial spawning grounds for Westslope Cutthroat Trout. Visit for more information.