Montana Public Radio

Two Dozen Bands Converge On The Hottest Stage In Montana

Jul 25, 2019

The Red Ants Pants Music Festival typically falls on the hottest weekend in July in Montana. Attendees are encouraged to provide their own shade in the form of bandanas, ten gallon hats and baseball caps. Now in its ninth year, this weekend’s festival is shaping up to be no different.

Thousands will descend upon the picturesque town of White Sulphur Springs starting Thursday, July 25 to delight in the parade of colorfully embroidered cowboy boots and the voices of some of today’s best country and americana artists.

Grammy award winner Patty Griffin will headline the festival, alongside artists Shakey Graves, Colter Wall and Valerie June. An additional two-dozen artists will be playing both stages to what’s expected to be another record breaking crowd. Last year saw more than 18,000 attendees over the course of the four-day festival.

Pollo Loco at the Red Ants Pants festival in 2017.
Credit Clare Menahan

Red Ants Pants has a unique origin story. The festival itself was founded in 2011 by Sarah Calhoun, who made a name for herself after starting a workwear company for women, designed by women, from which the festival takes its name. The storefront is also located in White Sulphur.

Calhoun also started the Red Ants Pants foundation in 2011, “To develop and expand leadership roles for women, to preserve and support working family farms and ranches, and enrich and promote rural communities,” according to their website. A portion of the profits from the Red Ants Pants Music Festival go to the Red Ants Pants Foundation, a 501(c)(3).

In an effort to apply those principles to the festival, this year’s lineup features a healthy dose of female singer/songwriters as well as musicians from Montana and the greater Northwest.

Lydia Loveless at Red Ants Pants in 2017.
Credit Clare Menahan

Organizers have scheduled crosscut saw and mustache contests, hayrides, an astronomy workshop for the weekend, as well as a Thursday night street dance to kick off the festival.

Tickets are no longer available online but you can purchase any throughout the weekend at the gate. Campgrounds open 11 a.m. Thursday. Kids 12 and under get in free. Find additional logistical information about the festival here, including lineup, schedule and prices.