For the first few years participants traveled by train from across Montana to attend the meet. The university paid the railway fares for three contestants from each city in Montana with a certified public school. Early contestants cut the legs off old pants to make running shorts and wore hand knit sweaters in school colors. Medals were awarded to the top three finishers in each event and relay winners received a silver cup. The school that won the most athletic contests received the Spaulding Cup and the school that won the most overall received the Missoula Mercantile Cup. The meet became a social function for young people all over Montana. On the last evening of the meet a dance was held for participants.