Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After two flooding incidents and a pandemic, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will finally celebrate the reopening of their iconic visitor’s center on Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Not Just One but Two Broken Water Pipes Flooded the RMEF Visitor Center

KGVO News spoke to RMEF’s media liaison Mark Holyoak for a brief history of why the visitor’s center has been closed since 2020.

“We had a sprinkler pipe break inside our building and it flooded,” began Holyoak. “It flooded one whole half of the office space and so we had to move all the furniture and it was just a big mess. They eventually got the office area fixed up again and then COVID hit, and so when we were ready to reopen, we couldn't reopen because of the COVID restrictions.”

After working hard to clean up the mess from the first flood and living through the pandemic’s restrictions, Holyoak said there was yet another disaster.

“After COVID started to die down a little bit and we were getting ready to open up again and even though we had everything checked out, another sprinkler pipe broke and it flooded the rest of the building,” he said. “There was standing water everywhere and we had to replace drywall and cubicles and furniture again so, it's just been several years of not so much fun, but we're good to go now.”

The RMEF Visitor Center has been Completely Redesigned

Holyoak said the RMEF has completely redesigned its iconic visitor center.

“The first thing you'll notice is we have a wide open expanded rotunda area, so it's wide open when they come in,” he said. “We had a little theater before in the center, but we've removed that. Instead, people can wander around the visitor center and there are different video screens with videos and interactive displays that are going on. We've expanded the retail area of our visitor center, and we have five of our conservation partners who basically set up a storefront. Browning, Eberlestock, Chemitrek, Leopold, and Montana Knife Company; so folks can come in and check out that gear, and of course we have RMEF products and apparel, too.”

The Official Ribbon Cutting will be at 11:00 a.m. on Friday

Holyoak invited all of western Montana to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand reopening that will occur on Friday starting at 11:00 a.m.

“We invite you to come out anytime, but we are having a grand reopening celebration Friday the 17th,” he said. “You can start to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by swinging by. We're having a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. but basically we'll be we'll be open all day. We're open weekdays from eight to five, but we're going to have some gear giveaways, and there'll be food trucks in the parking lot. So if you want to take your lunch break and swing on over with some co workers or, or bring some family members, come check it out. We've got activities for kids and membership specials. We'll be doing some live podcasts with different partners and of course some great retail opportunities and gear giveaways.”

Holyoak said RMEF staff and volunteers along with merchandise partners and local dignitaries will be there as well.

15 Montana T-Shirts to Wear and Show Your Montana Pride

Whether you're looking for humor or a great design, wearing t-shirts that celebrate Montana is a surefire way to show your love for the state.

Your Best Bet for Lunch in Missoula Montana

What can around $15 dollars get you for lunch in Missoula? Here are some suggestions from the locals who eat here:

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM