Madison County is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center site selection committee, which will be in Virginia City Friday.
The committee will be here to interview landowners who have potential locations for the facility, along with community members who would help make the project become a reality, said Sam Korsmoe, executive director of the Madison County Economic Development Council.
Korsmoe submitted the proposal to the committee a couple of months ago. Through the selection process, Madison County has made the short list of six communities vying for the project. Other towns being looked at include Big Timber, Livingston, Wolf Point, Big Sky and Miles City.
Madison County’s proposal was unique because it included three potential locations for the hall of fame: Ennis rodeo grounds, the Madison Valley History Association land west of Ennis and the old Montana Children’s Center grounds in Twin Bridges.
The hall of fame was originally supposed to be built in Wolf Point. Legislation in 2003 that authorized the construction of the facility dictated that it be located in Wolf Point. However, the 2011 legislature passed legislation reopening the process for citing the hall of fame, opening up a bidding process that has at times seemed frantic.
The selection committee issued interview questions for Madison County last week. From the questions, the committee made it clear that their preferred location in Madison County’s proposal is the Ennis rodeo grounds.
“The ERA (Ennis Rodeo Association) physical building site appears upon initial review to be the leading prospective site proposed,” reads an introduction to the interview questions.
The committee also makes it clear that Madison County’s proximity to tourism attractions, like Yellowstone National Park, and established tourism infrastructure is a strength.
However, the seasonality of the county’s tourism traffic is a drawback.
“It appears that Ennis poses the greatest challenge of all the finalist communities as it relates to the seasonality of the community and sustaining a year round operation for a project of this size and scope,” reads the introduction.
The selection committee will meet with county officials, landowners and Korsmoe on Friday in Virginia City. The meeting will focus on land negotiations and allow Korsmoe to present an answer to the questions the committee presented.
Central to his presentation will be three key points, Korsmoe said.
Madison County has a great track record of taking on big projects and seeing them through, he said referring specifically the fundraising effort to build the Madison Valley Medical Center.
He will also emphasize the county’s strategic location to the population centers of Butte and Bozeman, as well as to Yellowstone National Park.
Lastly, he will emphasize the strong historical and cultural threads in Madison County as it pertains to the western cowboy and ranching industry.
Beyond his presentation, Korsmoe is looking for community support and help. He specifically wants to hear from people who have ideas on how to keep the hall of fame busy during the winter months, when things typically slow down in Madison County.
Some ideas he has for this include concert series, art shows or classes.
He would also like to bring forward folks who have helped raise money for local efforts in the past, either through their own contributions or connections to other philanthropic people and organizations.
Korsmoe is orchestrating a practice of his presentation Wednesday night at First Madison Valley Bank in Ennis at 5:30. He asks for community members to attend and add their input.
The meeting with the selection committee on Friday will be open to the public, but no public comment will be taken or solicited, he said. The meeting will be at the Virginia City Courthouse at 9 a.m.
For more information or to help Korsmoe, please call him at 682-5923.