Endless Ennis

The days are long, the grass is green, and just like everyone else, you're probably trying to make time in your summer schedule for some actual fun. One of the best places in the state to find that elusive fun is Ennis and the surrounding area. Sure, Ennis is famous for fishing on the legendary Madison River, but in recent years Ennis and Madison County have been providing visitors with a plethora of things to do when the fish aren’t biting.

The Madison Farm to Fork farmers market brings to the Lone Elk Mall (right on Main Street) all manner of local meats, produce, garden items, crafts, and baked goods. The diversity and richness only increases as the summer progresses. Farm to Fork runs every Saturday through September. For more information, visit madisonfarmtofork.com or call Amanda at 406-682-5328.

For a bit of culture, Ennis also hosts a series of art walks throughout the summer months. The first is on June 18, and consecutive walks are every third Friday through September. Meet and greet local artists, view works in a variety of different media, and socialize with other art patrons. The Madison Valley Arts Festival will highlight these art walks. On August 8 from 10am to 4pm is a juried art show and live music. Contact Margie Reck at [email protected] or 406-682-4416 for details.

Of course, you can't say "summer in Madison County" without thinking about the Ennis Rodeo and 4th of July parade. Two days of NRA-sanctioned rough stock and timed events are rounded out with a big old-fashioned slice of Americana. The parade begins 10 am on July 4 and is the hub for events and happenings too numerous to mention. For more parade information, contact the Ennis Area Chamber of Commerce at 406-682-4388. For rodeo info and tickets, contact Katie at Northern Energy, 406-682-4230.

Another favorite Madison County getaway involves Ennis’s sister towns of Virginia and Nevada City. Authentic Western ghost towns, these little mining camps bring to mind shootouts and other historical lore that helped shape this area of Montana. By far one of the most entertaining evenings one can enjoy with family or friends is a night at the old Gilbert Brewery with the Brewery Follies cabaret troupe. Offering cold beer and bawdy humor rivaling Saturday Night Live, the Brewery Follies will keep you laughing long after the show is over. (Follies humor is risqué and includes political and social satire, so some parental discretion and thick skin are advised.)

After an evening of laughter, as the sun begins to set, perhaps one’s tastes tend to venture toward the macabre. What better setting for haunting than a ghost town? If spooky stories are your thing, join one of the Follies cast members for a tour of the supernatural kind around Virginia City. Some tales include bathtubs of blood, a hellhound, and chilly feelings underneath a makeshift gallows. For more information on The Brewery Follies or the Ghost Walk, visit breweryfollies.net. To reserve tickets, call 406-843-5218.

Of course, Madison County is never far from its sporting heritage. As summer begins to bend toward autumn, two events in Ennis highlight how important hunting and fishing are in this part of the world. Home of 1,446 different firearms, Shedhorn Sports hosts the annual Hunters' Rendezvous August 21 and 22. Dozens of factory representatives from numerous sporting companies attend the event with their new products, and the event is bigger than a sale and better than many gun shows. It's a great opportunity to meet industry professionals.

Just as the cottonwood leaves begin to gild and mornings feel a little cooler, it's time for the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Taking place September 3 and 4, this is an all-out celebration of angling art, culture, and conservation. Enthusiastic anglers of all skill levels converge on the otherwise sleepy streets of downtown Ennis for two days of seminars, classes, readings, and a climactic barbecue feast on Saturday. All proceeds benefit the mighty Madison River and the surrounding ecosystem. For more information, check out madisonriverfoundation.org or ennischamber.com. See you in Ennis!