24 August 2010

Midway Dispatch: Western Montana Fair Mascots Showcase Historical Fashion


Pattee Canyon likes to sew.

Rack after rack of historical clothing sits under a tent on the fairgrounds' west lawn, all of which - with very few exceptions - was sewn by Pattee.

Pattee and her husband, Stampede Pete, are the fair's new live mascots. In fact, they are married in real life, and go by the less sensational names of Elaine and Loren Bridge. Stampede Pete was a character in a 1915 song, and fair marketing whiz Gretchen Kirchmann created the character of Pattee so he wouldn't be lonely.

On Tuesday, Pattee prepared for a fashion show. It featured her handmade clothing and served as educational entertainment for the audience. As she both teaches living history and gives sewing lessons, it seems like a good fit.

"These are snapshots of key periods of fashion history," she said. The clothing- which was modeled by handy volunteers - ranged from the garb of early Montana territory settlers to the Victorian era.

All the pieces had an Old West sensibility.

"They weren't trying to make a fashion statement," Pattee said. "They were trying to stay alive."

Midway Dispatch reporter Marielle Gallagher is a sophomore at Hellgate High School.

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