Artists use talents to spread message to be "Friend of The Fish"

Staff Report | January 6, 2021 1:00 AM

Some Whitefish artists are putting their talents toward a campaign aimed at asking folks to be a “Friend of The Fish” by following health guidelines around the COVID-19 pandmic.

Whitefish actors Erica von Kleist, Mikey Winn, David Blair, Sarina Hart, and videographer Adam Pitman recently worked together to create a video that addresses visitors wearing masks, local artists struggling to find work, and the power of community. The video features scenes around downtown with performers asking folks to be a friend of the community by wearing a mask, and culminates with the visitors coming together with the locals in a masked socially distanced kick line in Depot Park.

Father and son duo John and Andy Dunnigan also wrote and produced a song about being a “Friend of The Fish.”

The song urges folks to follow a simple task by wearing a mask and says, “We all need to remember, it’s not about them and us, it’s the tiny town of Whitefish, versus the global virus.”

“These last nine months have been challenging for all of us,” John Dunnigan said. “As musicians, we wanted to share a message that unified the community to be safe, so we can get back to doing what we love — performing live in front of people.

“As artists, we really miss our fans,” Andy Dunnigan added. “More than anything, we want to safely get back to playing shows again.”

Both projects were completed in partnership with the Whitefish COVID-19 Task Force, a group that was created in October comprised of representatives from the city, Whitefish School District, healthcare workers and business owners, which works to provide messaging to the community aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

Whitefish City Manager Dana Smith said partnering with local talent was a great way to reach visitors and the community.

“It strengthens the message we’ve been sharing all along, which is that wearing a mask and being COVID-safe protects the wellbeing of all of our community members and keeps our businesses open,” Smith said.

The task force created a messaging campaign aimed at asking folks to follow COVID safety guidelines and be a “Friend of The Fish.” A series of videos ask folks to follow guidelines, and banners around town ask people to wear masks.

The task force’s work was funded through Montana’s share of the CARES Act. For more information, visit