Montana's Serb Fest

Serb Fest
Photo by Cheryl Ackerman

Get out your calendar and set a reminder for Saturday, August 3rd from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM to attend Serb Fest!  Plan a road trip to Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Christian Church at 2100 Continental Drive in Butte! Montana's relationship with Serbia stretches back to the dusty, horse-drawn carriage days when Montana was still a territory and Serbia was still a kingdom. 

This celebration of Serbian food, music, culture, and history began in 2017 and has been going strong, with an obligatory pandemic pause in 2020. The free festival immerses visitors in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Serbia. Farther Russell Radoicich gives tours of Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church several times throughout the day. If you've never been inside this church, you're missing one of Montana's finest cultural gems, with walls and ceilings adorned with beautiful iconography. 

Serb Fest

Come hungry as you’ll have a wide variety of home-cooked Serbian dishes to choose from! If you’ve never had Serbian cuisine, you’re in for a rare treat. With sarma, kielbasa, povitica, barbecued lamb, and pork topped off with baklava for dessert, you won’t leave hungry. You’ll leave with a full stomach, wonderful memories, and probably even have some new friends. 

At the height of Butte’s mining boom, around 20,000 Serbians were living and working there. The legacy lives on today, with the Butte phone book full of Serbian names. The mayor of Butte even declared an official Serb Day holiday that corresponds to Serb Fest. You may have noticed that we also have a town named Belgrade in Montana, named after the capital of Serbia. But that’s another story for another time. 

In the late 1800s, the population of Butte had swelled to somewhere around 100,000 people, with 20,000 of those being Serbian miners. Because there was no Serbian Orthodox Christian church in Butte when they arrived, they contacted a priest, who first came to Butte in 1897. That priest, Father Sebastian Dobovich, is now recognized by Orthodox Christians as a saint. 

Serb Fest

Saint Sebastian’s legacy lives on today in the descendants of the Serbs who lived in Butte during its boomtown days. Although you likely won’t hear anyone speaking Serbian at Serb Fest, they still hold fast to the traditions passed down to them from their ancestors. If you’re fortunate enough to enjoy some Serbian cuisine at Serb Fest, you will likely be enjoying a family recipe that has been passed down for generations. 

The story of Butte’s Serbian population is about as American a story as you’ll find anywhere. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a nicer, more friendly group of people, so saddle up and get out to Serb Fest on August 3rd. If you’d like to learn more about the Serbian history of Butte, St. Sebastian, and Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Christian Church’s role in Butte history, check out the article in our Fall, 2023 issue. 

See you at Serb Fest! 

Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Christain Church Contact Info: 

Serb Fest

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