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Library begins oral history through a dirtbag lens

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Members of contemporary Dirtbag Royalty were celebrated in an October 2022 homecoming parade float. PHOTO BY JULIA BARTON

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER 

For decades, dirtbags have been a skiing subculture of legendary status. As the first chapter in an oral history of Big Sky, the Big Sky Community Library is working to prevent that legend from fading.  

Library Director Amy Hunter said dirtbags can participate by reminiscing in the library’s new recording studio funded by a recent grant from the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation. At least to start, Hunter said the recordings will be banked in a raw database, eventually made available to community members to come to the library and listen. However, the library might decide to splice recorded clips into a more digestible narrative, like a podcast. The dirtbag history is the beginning of a larger project to archive an oral history of Big Sky’s ever-evolving community.  

Hunter credits the idea to Sarah Gaither Bivins, operations manager at the Big Sky Community Food Bank. Bivins suggested that the library should collect local history, focusing on topics like dirtbag culture.  

Hunter agreed, seeing how important it was to execute the idea now, in a 50-year-old ski community where some of the original dirtbags have moved or are passing away. 

“It feels like five years ago would have been a better time to do it, but better late than never, right?” Hunter said. 

The library will provide snacks and ask basic questions to help prompt participants as they share stories. Hunter hopes to start with dirtbags from the 1970s and ‘80s and move throughout the generations. She asked any interested dirtbags—or anyone else who knows a relevant character—to send her an email

As for the hard-partying side of dirtbag culture, Hunter said dirtbags are welcome to keep their war stories anonymous if they feel inclined. However, she added that you probably won’t get arrested for sharing something that happened 25 years ago. 

“If anyone asks to have something removed from the record, for sure, we will,” Hunter said. If the library decides to splice stories together, Hunter plans to obtain additional permission from each source.  

PLUS: Amy Hunter sat down with Hoary Marmot podcast hosts Joe and Michelle Borden, recently partnered with Explore Big Sky, to address the past, present and future of the promising local library.

Keeping ‘little ones’ engaged 

In other library news, Hunter recently announced that the South Fork loop will be Big Sky’s first “storybook trail” in time for the summer.  

In a storybook trail, stations displaying a page from a picture book are posted at regular intervals, allowing a story to unfold during a stroll. This project is being funded by a grant from the Moonlight Club Community Foundation, and Hunter said it might be the first of many enhancements to Big Sky’s community trails if the community responds with joy.  

“It’s kind of a fun activity to get out and do with little ones that keeps them engaged,” Hunter said. “Our goal is to change the story every month, and we’re really excited.” 

The trail will consist of 26 posts, planted as soon as the ground thaws, Hunter said.  

The Big Sky Community Library is open Monday through Wednesday from 4-8 p.m., Friday from 3-7 p.m. and Saturday from 12-6 p.m. 

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