Festival to showcase variety of vendors

 


Montana has a state fruit, and it is about to be celebrated for the 43rd time at Trout Creek Park.

The Huckleberry Festival was launched in 1978 for the purpose of showcasing local artisans and crafters and the wonderful hand-made items they created. Their humble beginnings started with just a handful of vendors and have now grown over the years to an average of 90 vendors participating in the festival each year. This year, the 43rd celebration on Aug. 12-13 is no exception, with nearly 100 vendors signed up and more coming in.

What sets the Huckleberry Festival apart from many other festivals is the requirement that the items sold by vendors be at least 50% to 75% handmade by that vendor, ensuring each item is truly unique and one of a kind.

The Huckleberry Festival does not just happen with a few weeks of planning. Preparations for acquiring vendors begin in February, when vendor packets of information are sent out to all of the previous year’s festival vendors, along with updated information posted on the website. Contracts begin trickling in, inquiries are made from new vendors, and booths are assigned. It’s always a guessing game as to who will return, what new vendors will sign up, and what new or unusual items will be presented for sale.

Of the nearly 100 vendors signed up this year, more than one-third are first-time vendors to the festival. It’s always amazing to see the wide array of items that can be found at the festival, from pottery to jewelry, from woodworking to leather goods, from soaps, salves and lotions to quilts and knitted or crocheted items. Attendees can also find specialty dog treats, knives and furniture, and flavored oils and barbeque sauces. A new vendor for this year has furniture created from wine barrels, and another will be selling handmade huckleberry picking tools.

Each year brings changes, including vendors, and some do not return. One longtime favorite, local woodworker Hank Dykstra, will not be returning. He has decided that his time has come to retire his crafting tools.

The Huckleberry Festival also has many other draws, such as free entertainment, contests, art activities, and a vast array of food, but the main attraction and heart of the festival is the wonderful and talented artisans and crafters that festival goers enjoy each year. Many of the vendors comment about how much they love coming to Trout Creek and that the Huckleberry Festival is one of their favorites to participate in because of the beautiful surroundings and atmosphere, but mostly because of their fellow vendors and the people who attend the festival. It’s always a great event for all.

 

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