JFK at the Yellowstone County Fairgrounds
After giving a speech at the University of Wyoming earlier that day (September 25, 1963), President John F. Kennedy arrived at the Yellowstone Fairgrounds in Billings, Montana, at 3:55 p.m. The Secret Service estimated that more than seventeen thousand people in this Republican stronghold gathered to greet the Democratic president and listen to his speech on outdoor recreation policy. Before arriving at the Fairgrounds, Kennedy was greeted by more than one hundred thousand people waiting for his arrival both at the airport and on the streets of the city.
In his speech, the President addressed U.S. foreign policy and the complexities of the world in a time of great changes. Assisting other countries of the world served the national interest of the United States, and decreasing the chance of a military collision between the two great nuclear powers – the USA and the Soviet Union – was of key significance. Kennedy emphasized the importance of developing international relations and highlighted the support of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Kennedy also talked about significant aspects in the U.S. domestic policy, focusing on the importance of passing a new tax bill, stimulating the U.S. economy, and avoiding overwhelming economic problems. Creating new jobs, promoting the development of education, increasing youth employment and security would make the country stronger and help promote its vital interests. According to the President, it was also crucial to focus on the protection of resources like land, water, and power in order to keep the United States strong.
John F. Kennedy discussed the projects that had already been initiated in Washington, D.C. He focused on ten reclamation projects and the acquisition of wetlands, as well as the importance of saving woodlands, protecting the country’s wildlife, and supporting farmers and ranchers. Kennedy emphasized the role of the state of Montana in conservation and pointed out that creating new wilderness areas would attract even more tourists and help develop the state tourism industry. Each citizen, according to the president, should help lay the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful future for both the state and the country. Everyone should take action in order for future generations to live in greater security and prosperity.
At 4:35 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy departed the Yellowstone County Fairgrounds by motor for Logan Field Airport.
Yellowstone County, which is located in south-central Montana, is the state’s most populous county with an estimated population of 158,980 in 2017. Billings is the largest city in the state of Montana, and it is a major retail and wholesale trade, financial, energy, transportation and medical center.