Getting the Montana Tavern Association (MTA) to eastern Montana was a labor of love for many Sidney residents, including Boyde and Hannah Frye, general managers at Meadowlark Public House.
“We went to the convention last year and thought it could be a good economical boost to get these people here and a good way to show off what we have going on in this side of the state,” Boyde said, who is also on the Sidney Chamber of Commerce board. “We talked to a lot of vendors that were there, a lot of brewers and distilleries, to try and get them interested in coming over here too.”
Part of Hannah and Boyde’s trip to the MTA convention in Missoula last year to study the layout and flow of the convention to see how it would work in Sidney. Boyde said they want to get a larger variety of western Montana products to the eastern side of the state. The Fryes also enjoy the opportunity to inspire other small towns.
“I love the convention. It’s just so much fun,” Hannah said. “We know this year is going to be a smaller turn out because they don’t do it in small towns. But its going to be a really good opportunity for us to show the other small towns we can all put on conventions.”
While the hot topic of the convention is legalized sports betting this year, pubs like the Meadowlark won’t be too involved in those conversations. Hannah said one thing they would like to know more about is the use of CBD oil in microbrews and how that works.
Along with the Fryes, another community member who played a big role in getting MTA to Sidney was the late Mike Severson, former owner of the Ranger Lounge.
“He always wanted it to come here and then he passed away before that,” Boyde said. “They really wanted to make an effort in his name to get over here. His son sat down with us with [MTA Executive Director Margaret Herriges] in meetings and really helped get it all started. His dad always went to all the conventions and really supported MTA a lot.”
The convention will hopefully be the start of more events being hosted in the area. Hannah said the Montana Young Professionals convention in Sidney in 2021 will help solidify Sidney’s reputation as a convention-friendly location.
“It’ll benefit the whole town, all the hotels,” Boyde added. “There will be people here shopping in our local boutiques and stores. And taverns will get a big boost too. The more events we can get to Sidney the better it’s going to be for our economy.”
MTA convention will be in Sidney Sept. 8-11 for the 64th annual convention and trade show.