Taking place along the banks of the Mighty Missouri River in north-central Montana’s Chouteau County, Bentonfest is a community Brewfest that locals have come to look forward to every year.
Sponsored by the Fort Benton Chamber of Commerce, the event features craft beer from around Montana served against a backdrop of live music, including the Snowy Mountain Express band, and food vendors.
The celebration is fun for the whole family, whether they’re enjoying performances by local artists or playing games, including chicken-poop bingo, along the river.
Bentonfest is run by the Fort Benton Community Improvement Association. They put together the soiree each year to help with causes in and around Fort Benton, including repairs of the Old Fort Benton Bridge over the Missouri.
They work with the City of Fort Benton and Chouteau County to raise funds that go towards maintaining the bridge, or other endeavors, including raising money for the Fort Benton Memorial Ambulance/Emergency Medical Services.
The festival takes place in mid-May in Fort Benton, from around 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In 2022, the event was held on May 21 next to the Old Fort in Downtown Benton, beneath the park’s signature cottonwoods. Beverages from more than 15 local breweries are on offer
Tickets are $35 at the gate or $30 if bought ahead of time. Admission prices include a commemorative Fort Benton cup, plus access to samples of local craft beer and live music performances.
- Dates: Mid-May, changes annually
- Address: 1900 River Street, Fort Benton, MT 59442 (next to the Old Fort)
- Phone: (406) 622-3307
- Admission: $30
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/bentonfest/
There’s no shortage of food and drink available at Bentonfest, a celebration of the finest brews in Montana.
Craft beer from over a dozen breweries is served, however, the atmosphere of live music and community games is still family-friendly and appropriate for children. Samples of beer are included in the admission price.
A variety of live food vendors and food trucks operate at the event, selling fares that can be purchased for an additional price. Typical fair food is often served, including tacos, burgers, corn dogs, sandwiches, chips, and fries.
As part of the event, sometimes a fundraiser breakfast is held by a local business, such as Golden Triangle Brewing Co., before the afternoon festivities begin.
Memorabilia in the form of accessories like caps and shirts is sold at the festival, the proceeds of which go towards fundraising for Fort Benton.
Old Fort Park offers shade from lots of trees and picnic areas which may be free to use during the event. There are also shelters in the park, plus a playground for children and a recreational sports area.
While Old Fort Park doesn’t accommodate camping or RVs, there are a few RV parks in the town where travelers can base themselves when attending the festival. These include:
$ – Benton RV and Campground – Benton
$ – Canoe Launch Campground – Benton
Other forms of accommodation are also available in Fort Benton.
There are plenty of other things to do around town when the festival is over, including visiting the Shep the Dog Statue, admiring the Old Fort Benton Bridge, and having dinner at the renowned Union Grille restaurant at the Grand Union Hotel.
So if you have the time, it’s worth staying an extra day or two. The most popular local accommodation includes:
$ – Pioneer Lodge Hotel – Fort Benton
$$$ – Grand Union Hotel – Fort Benton
The closest major city to Fort Benton is Great Falls, which is less than an hour away by car. Some travelers choose to base themselves in Great Falls and travel to Fort Benton for Bentonfest as a day trip.
The most highly rated accommodation in Great Falls includes:
$ – Days Inn by Wyndham Great Falls – Great Falls
$$ – The Great Falls Inn by Riversage – Great Falls
$$$ – Best Western Plus Riverfront Hotel and Suites – Great Falls
$$$ – SpringHill Suites by Marriott Great Falls – Great Falls