Nine years ago, Mike and Tari Conroy created a festival to share their love of bluegrass music with all who wanted to hear it. And it's happened every year since then.

The Hardtimes Bluegrass Festival is July 21-23 at its usual place about 10 miles south of Hamilton in a pretty field with a sense of living the simple life in the 30s and 40s. They were "hard" times but the music helped bring people together in the rural areas of America. That bluegrass sound will be celebrated starting about 6 p.m. Friday night, and all day Saturday and all day Sunday, with a special Bluegrass Gospel hour at 10 a.m.

Admission for the three-day festival is a tip of the hat to pre-inflation times - $15 for adults for all three days, with kids under age 12 - $7 for all three days.

Dry camping is available for $15 for the weekend. Those who stick around the venue know that the after-show pickin' and grinnin' around the campfires is always memorable.

Who's going to be onstage? Some of the regulars will include Pine Grass, Spring Thaw, the Darby Sireens and, of course, Mike and Tari Conroy. Also, Lochwood, Ladd Canyon Ramblers out of Oregon, Portneuf Gap, The Panhandle Polecats and Blue Rail, all from Idaho. The "Pioneers in Bluegrass" this year will be Rod Snyder of Libby, Forrest Clark of Clinton, Gary and Linda McKnight of Darby and Raynae Redman of Idaho.

Drive 10 miles south of Hamilton on US 93, turn right at Mile Marker 37 and drive up Forest Hill Road to the festival at 163 Forest Hill Road.

Need more information? Call (406) 821-3777 or check their website.