In the Community

Who gave $500,000 in matching funds to the Judith Basin County Fairgrounds Revitalization Project? You’re about to find out.

July 20, 2023

It was a million-dollar question: who put up $500,000 in matching funds to revitalize the Judith Basin County Fairgrounds?

No one knew, until now. Turns out, the anonymous funding came from the Staple Bar Ranch Fund, a Donor Advised Fund at the Montana Community Foundation (MCF) established by Tom and Freda Evans to support charitable causes, specifically in the Stanford community.

But the anonymity is about to change on July 15th. That’s when the Evans family and MCF will jointly acknowledge the funds’ contribution to the revitalization project and the family will be recognized in a presentation at 5:30 pm at the Quick Finish Art & Auction located at the Judith Basin Country Fairgrounds in Stanford, Montana.

Why the change of heart? “We want to inspire others to come forward to complete this project,” said Karen Latka, Tom and Freda’s daughter, and representative of the fund. “We also want to inspire others to reinvigorate our rural hometown communities with similar projects that attract business and keep less populated areas thriving.”

The Stable Bar Ranch Fund was established in 2014 at MCF, where Karen is also a board member. The fund is named after the family ranch still in operation just outside Stanford. Tom and Frieda passed away in 2018 and 2022, respectively. Through this significant contribution to a community project, Karen and family honor her parents and carry on their initial hope for the fund which was to support the Stanford community.

The Staple Bar Ranch Fund donated $500,000 in matching funds to Stanford Open to support the Judith Basin County Fairgrounds Revitalization Project. The match was announced in 2021 as a dollar-for-dollar match of donations made to support the project.

This is not the Evans family’s only contribution to the Stanford community. Through their fund they have also provided $264,379 since 2015 to support the Judith Basin County Free Library.

“It is a privilege to partner with Karen and her family as they have made such significant contributions to the Stanford community,” said Mary Rutherford, MCF President and Chief Executive Officer. “Their generosity is making a meaningful impact.”

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About the Judith Basic County Fairgrounds Revitalization Project

The Judith Basin County Fairgrounds Revitalization Project was launched in 2020 by Stanford Open, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting projects that benefit the communities in Judith Basin County. Initial funding for the project came through proceeds from Stanford Open’s annual golf tournament.

The revitalization project supports upgrades to facilities throughout the fairgrounds- including the bathrooms, lighting, and electrical- and updates to the arena. The project also includes adding new elevated metal bleachers and a permanent covered shade area. Funding is often hard to find for these sorts of improvements, so this matching gift is critical to keep this important community asset going.

To learn more about the Judith Basin County Fairgrounds Revitalization Project, visit the Stanford Open Facebook page or contact Oliver Urick at (406) 868-9421 or

About the Montana Community Foundation

The Montana Community Foundation’s mission is to cultivate a culture of giving so Montana communities can flourish. Founded in 1988, MCF manages more than $150 million in assets and administers more than 1,400 philanthropic funds and planned gifts. Since its founding, MCF has reinvested more than $100 million in Montana through scholarships, grants, and programs. Learn more at