Jersey Lilly Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed

May 11, 2011  |  Do, Eat

I love every square inch of Montana. But there are a few places I consider The Best of The Best, and The Jersey Lilly Saloon in Ingomar is one of them. You drive & drive and drive east out of Roundup on HWY 12, passing through towns like Melstone, Musselshell & Sumatra on two lanes surrounded by nothing but sky and sagebrush. Then all of a sudden, you see the town of Ingomar—which has a population of maybe 10–from quite a distance. It’s almost like a mirage. And the Jersey Lilly is very much an oasis.

In 1999, I shot my friend Bill Dutton’s 50th birthday party here. I’d met Bill at a branding on the Bill Brown ranch that spring. At most brandings I’d been to, they fried the nuts up on the spot… but these guys were going to freeze them for Bill’s big party in the fall. In September, Bill called to formally invite me to the party (he’s got such a great voice I pulled the tape from my answering machine & saved it!) and my mom and I drove down. It was amazing! It was my third visit to the Jersey Lilly, and I felt like I was going back in time. I shot it in black and white with my Hasselblad, and Eric O’Keefe, the editor of Cowboys & Indians, ended up running an 8-page feature on it. SEE SPREAD HERE (I have a pdf of it, Mike.)

Last August, Bill called me up and invited me to another oyster feed he and his cousin Dave Dutton and their wives were throwing. I went, and this is it. Though the multimedia piece shows a lot, I recommend viewing the extra images on flickr. I had to make brutal editing choices, leaving some of my favorite images out, and flickr can show you what you missed. What a place!

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  1. Mary Dutton Pluhar

    Loved this! Bill Dutton is my Dad and he does, indeed, have a great voice as well as being a wonderful dancer and host. The Jersey Lilly and the folks you photographed here are a portrait of Eastern Montana at her finest, I think. Amazing how it looks EXACTLY like I remember from when I was a grubby little kid, except it might be a little more spiffed up here.
    Thank you for capturing this time and sharing it!
    (Owen Badgett is a treasure, isn’t he? Have you read his books?)

    • Hi Mary,

      I am just sick that I am reading your comment for the first time today! (I just took over as Administrator of my blog today.) What a great comment; I am so flattered and touched by your comment. I think the world of your dad. I met him back in about 1998 on a branding at the Brown Ranch, and he invited me to his 50th birthday party. (Did you see the spread on it in Cowboys & Indians way back when?) I even did a story on your Great Aunt Daisy & her Sand Springs Store once for BSJ. Owen Badgett is indeed a treasure; WHAT BOOKS?!?! I had no idea. Do tell! You are so lucky to be from that part of the world. Would love to hear where you are now. Thanks & TUNE IN FOR MORE stories from that part of the world!

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