Photo Gallery: Missoula Maggotfest 2012


For the third year in a row, I missed Maggotfest.

It is becoming a curse: Events beyond my control, coupled with my inability to read an analog clock correctly, have led me to either show up late, early, or miss the festival completely.

This year, I was determined to fully attend both days, to be the first to Fort Missoula and the last to pack it in, but by the time I arrived on Saturday, the crowds were trickling down and the UM Jester’s club had been relegated to garbage duty.

I crossed my fingers Sunday wouldn’t let me down and circled to leave the lot, only to be held up by a topless woman and the pack of sunburned rugby players nipping at her heels. Maybe I didn’t miss much after all.

Despite the best efforts of the Fates, I made it to Maggotfest early enough on Sunday to get a taste of what I missed the day prior, and a teaser for what I can look forward to next year.

This year’s festival brought back a fan-favorite club from across the pond, Australia’s Outback Barbarians. Winners of Best Play in 2010 and undefeated at this year’s tournament, the Barbarians schooled the Maggots 71-5 Thursday evening (the host team went 1-2 for the weekend) on their way to securing the award for Best Club on the Pitch 2012.

The Hooligans Highwaymen Club, a conglomeration of northwest rugby players whose sole purpose is to make it to Maggotfest and hopefully back to their respective homes alive, received the Most Honored Club 2012 award.

The Highwaymen are notorious for rabble-rousing, and this year was no different. After completing their third game Sunday afternoon, the club promptly donned monkey suits and took off for the beer garden. After a quick battle chant they made their way back through the crowd, throwing bananas with prejudice (I took one in the shoulder) and scaring any poor soul who wasn’t paying attention to the stampede behind them.

Unbeknownst to me, the ballerina tutus and gorilla costumes are a tradition dating back to the Highwaymen’s initial appearance at Maggotfest. According to the Highwaymen, some players woke up that first Sunday morning still in costume after the debauchery of the traditional Saturday night party, which this photographer was too meek to shoot. Refusing to change, they ended up playing the weekend’s final game in hula dancer costumes, a gimmick that has now overflowed to nearly every team in attendance.

Clubs from all over the world bring their traditions to Maggotfest. One group from Alaska can be easily located by the 6-foot red- and white-striped North Pole they make and bring every year. The club refuses to take the Pole on their return trip, favoring instead to ditch it on the pitch. There was a problem this year, however, when an Alaskan spotted 2011’s North Pole being hoisted by a non-club member; much like the golden eagle of Roman legions, there is an unwritten code for who gets to carry on these traditions, and consequences for the ignorant.

After missing so much this year, I made a vow as I walked to my car Sunday that I will put aside all other obligations in 2013. Next year, I will be there Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. sharp for the 37th rendition of Maggotfest. I will be the first to arrive, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the last to leave, sunburned and broken.

I hope.




Austin Smith is a 21-year resident of the Missoula area, and an ardent fisherman, hunter, and snowboarder. When not working on the University of Montana campus, taking classes in the Journalism program, or contributing to the social media efforts of several local organizations, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his Akita and his family.