Have You Heard This Magical Fish Tale? Montana Has Mermaids
Disney's latest live action film "The Little Mermaid" is out now in theaters. Netflix also has a documentary series about real life "mermaids" and "mermen" titled "MerPeople". Did you know that Montana has "merpeople" too?
There is a population of "merpeople" hobbyists that reside in Montana that you may not know about. If you have lived in Montana for any length of time you may have heard about the world famous "Sip 'N Dip" lounge in Great Falls, Montana. I have been there on more than one occasion and have witnessed the "mermaids" working their magic. I always thought it was just a job. Little did I know that there is an entire hobby and culture that goes with it in Montana. As a matter of fact, a person who I attended middle school and high school with, is part of the "merpeople" culture in Montana. I reached out to talk with Elise Wilberg about her hobby and community, which she has been a part of for over seven years now. I had so much to learn.
Montana "Merpeople" do Exist
Since we don't live close to an ocean, I never thought there would be "merpeople" hobbyists in Montana since we aren't near an ocean. Elise let me know we do, in fact, have "landlocked mermaids" in Montana. I asked her about the Montana "merpeople", she said:
There's levels of "mermaiding", there's hobbyists, which is the level I am at. I have a small group of "mermaid" friends. Being that we are such a large state, my "mermaid" friends stretch from Libby, down through the Flathead, a few in Missoula. Obviously, I have friends who work at "The Dip" in Great Falls, which happens to be my hometown. I have mermaid friends all the way to Billings. I am sure there are many more that I have not had contact with. I am sure the Netflix premiere will bring more out of the woodwork and I hope we can stretch our community. Our "pod" consists of about 16, we also happen to have "Miss Mermaid Montana" who is a part of our pod and she lives in Helena.
We Have a "Miss Mermaid Montana"
I was not aware that we had a "Miss Mermaid Montana". According to Elise there are some large conventions in the country. There is a three day "California Mermaid Convention" that takes place in Sacramento, California. Next year they are hoping to have a contingent of " Montana mermaids" go down to "represent the 406". There are "mermaid pageants". "Mermaid Rapunzel Melody" from Montana has represented Montana for the past two years.
"Mermaiding" Can be a Dangerous Hobby
There is a level of danger and risk involved with the hobby of "merpeople". Elise called it a "danger art", it is something that you have to learn how to do. She spoke about that.
Your legs are bound. You don't just hop into the tail and hit the water. It does take practice, training and confidence.
Mermaids are Inclusive
If you are looking for a new hobby that combines fantasy, water and a community that is very inclusive maybe this is something for you. "Merpeople" come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and races and all are welcome. If you are interested in learning more and want to reach out to Elise you can contact her via Facebook, Elise Wilberg, or you can find her on Instagram under @mermaidspout.