By Justin Franz, 2-09-13
||Caption: Bartender Kaylan Hahn, right, watches "The Bachelor" on Monday, Feb. 4 at the Crush Lounge. That night's episode featured Whitefish and other locations in Northwest Montana. - Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon
WHITEFISH – Northwest Montana was on center stage Monday, Feb. 4, when 7.5 million people tuned into a two-hour episode of the ABC reality show, “The Bachelor.”
Some locals chose to watch at the Crush Lounge in downtown Whitefish, where about 60 patrons sat on bar stools and leather couches brought in for the viewing party. Owner and self-described reality show junkie Megan Grunow said the bar has been hosting viewings since “The Bachelor” began its new season, but the Whitefish episode was by far the most popular.
“I definitely think it’s good for business, I mean they took the best parts of Montana and put it in the show,” Grunow said.
During the two-hour episode, Sean Lowe and the 11 women trying to court him visited Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and numerous spots around Whitefish, including The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Casey’s Bar and Grille, the Bar W Guest Ranch and the Grouse Mountain Lodge.
Officials with the Whitefish Convention and Visitor Bureau say they could not have been happier with the results, as Internet searches for the town spiked on following the show. According to spokesperson Lisa Jones, on an average day 500 to 600 people visit explorewhitefish.com. On Feb. 4, more than 5,000 people visited the site. That same day, the bureau launched a contest for a romantic weekend for two in Whitefish. Before the episode was finished, more than 200 people had already applied. By Feb. 5, 1,251 applications had been received and there were more than 500 requests for travel brochures.
“It depicted Whitefish very well,” Jones said. “It showed our scenic vistas and wide open spaces, but it also showed our amenities.”
Of course, future visitors may be disappointed at the lack of spontaneous downtown concerts in Whitefish. During the episode, Lowe and his date turn a corner and find a county music concert on Central Avenue. In reality, the concert was put on by the show’s producers and shut down the street for more than six hours. The final result? Just three minutes of footage during the episode. The lack of reality was a disappointment for Grunow.
“To see the actual process of how these shows are made, I’m actually ashamed to call myself a reality show junkie,” she said. “There’s nothing real about it.”
But that didn’t seem to bother Hilary Shaw or Aleta Hannigan, who were sitting in a backroom at Crush watching with a group of dedicated fans. Shaw said the two started watching “The Bachelor” this season just to catch the Whitefish episode, but then they got drawn into the plot.
Even though Shaw and Hannigan acknowledged that they would be tuning into the show for the rest of the season, they said some aspects of it were pretty absurd. Perhaps the most interesting moment was a Montana relay race that had the 11 bachelorettes rowing canoes, cutting wood, milking a goat and then drinking that milk.
“It’s a good thing they didn’t go up against some real Montana girls,” Shaw said, laughing.
[End of article]