Fifth annual event highlights power of community

By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Rain and thunderstorms can be regular party crashers in a southwest Montana summer, but they steered clear of Big Sky Community Corp.’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Clear skies greeted guests attending BSCC’s fifth annual Parks and Trails Gala, held under a big-top tent at the community park on the evening of Aug. 15. The event drew a crowd ranging from local residents to out-of-town visitors, all aiming to celebrate the parks, recreation and trails this community holds close to its heart.

“It was a wonderful representation of just how well BSCC is received in the community,” said newly appointed Executive Director Ciara Wolfe. “There wasn’t a single person in that tent who doesn’t utilize what BSCC offers on a regular basis.”

Guests mingled among silent auction items and Bozeman chef Ryan LaFoley catered a dinner before Wolfe introduced herself to the nearly 200 attendees.

The organization’s new director began with BSCC in late July after moving to the area from Bozeman with her husband Mike and their two children.

Addressing the crowd, Wolfe spoke about the importance of recreation in the community, and included an anecdote recalling a family who named Ousel Falls Trail their favorite hike in the area.

Wolfe also presented the first annual Krista Mach Volunteer of the Year award to local Barbara Rowley for her longstanding commitment to BSCC and the Big Sky community as a whole. The award honors the organization’s most dedicated volunteer of the year, and is named after Mach for her years of work with BSCC.

Silent and live auctions raised nearly $40,000, and included, among others, art and gift baskets as well as trips to Bali and to a worldwide destination of the bidder’s choice.

Before the gala began, BSCC received $7,500 in donations from those who were unable to attend. Between sponsorships, donations, ticket sales, and auction items, the nonprofit raised approximately $105,000 toward continuing its community efforts.

For Wolfe, the event provided an opportunity to express to attendees that BSCC’s work reaches beyond starting new parks and trails projects.

“Folks recognized that their contributions were also going toward stewarding the incredible assets we already have [in Big Sky], so that they’re around for generations to come.”