Red Ants Pants Store, White Sulphur Springs, MontanaOne of the best things about traveling on US Route 89 is unexpected encounters with interesting people. So when we stopped in White Sulphur Springs to get gas and saw a store with the name Red Ants Pants we had to investigate. That’s how we met Sarah Calhoun.

Sarah is the founder of Red Ants Pants which makes workwear for women. The name comes from the fact that in red ant colonies, the female ants do all the work. Sarah who taught Outward Bound and worked on trail building crews after college, became frustrated with having to buy men’s pants that were tough enough but very uncomfortable. Sarah saw this as an opportunity, not a problem, and set out to design and manufacture pants for hard working women.

To Sarah it only seemed natural that if she was making workwear, she needed to support the women wearing her product. In her words, “It had to be more than a pair of pants.” Thus the Red Ants Pants Foundation was born with mission of expanding leadership roles for women, supporting working family farms and ranches, and promoting rural communities.

Red Ants Pants Music Festival

Red Ants Pants Music Festival

Red Ants Pants Music Festival – photo by Tony Demin

What does all of this have to do with a music festival on a ranch in rural Montana? Foundations need funds and what better way to raise money and build community at the same time than a music festival. The second annual Red Ants Pants Music Festival will take place from July 26nd through July 29th at the Jackson Ranches in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. The headliners are Ennylou Harris and the Red Dirt Boys, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Taj Mal along with thirteen other first-class performers and groups.

Prices for the Festival are the 3-day weekend pass: $115 in advance; $130 at the gate; one day pass: $45 in advance; $50 at gate.  Kids 12 and under are free, if accompanied by an adult.  Camping on site, open Thursday through Sunday, is $10 per person for the entire weekend (kids under 12 free). To purchase tickets and get more information on the festival, schedule, accommodations and directions go to the Red Ants Pants Music Festival website.

Workshops and Community Grants

Crosscut Saw Bucking Demonstration at Red Ants Pants Music Festival

Crosscut Saw Demonstration at Red Ants Pants Music Festival

In keeping with the mission of the foundation, the festival includes agricultural and work skills demonstrations including ranch horsemanship, sheep shearing, blacksmithing, meat processing, crosscut saw bucking and grain milling. Preceding the festival a four-day timber skills workshop will be held in which participants will learn everything from harvesting timber, to milling the lumber and ending with constructing a pole shade structure on the festival grounds.

The Red Ants Pants Foundation will use funds raised at the festival to make grants to individuals and organizations. The grants are to help fund projects that align with the foundation’s mission and values. Grant applications are being accepted until July 20, 2012, and the recipients will be announced at the festival. More information and a downloadable application form are on the foundation website.

Supporting the work of the Red Ants Pants Foundation and similar efforts to promote the well being of folks living along US Route 89 is one of the goals of the US Route 89 Appreciation Society. I can’t think of a more fun way to do that than attending this outstanding music festival.