Ahhhh … August in the Flathead! Hot days, cool nights and the folks around here start thinking about a little purple berry that can be hard to find – and even harder to resist. Huckleberries are a valley favorite and it’s no wonder that – just like their favorite fishing hole – people tend to keep quiet about their “secret” places to find prolific, fat and juicy huckleberries. If you’ve never picked huckleberries, prepare to scramble over rocks, bushes and hillsides – you’ll get scratched up, guaranteed. And if your hunt is successful, the purple stains on your fingers will give you away!
The Huckleberry Days Arts Festival, now in its 24th year, was named after this much sought-after fruit. And while huckleberry products will be in abundance – everything from ice cream to jams to baked goods – it’s the fine art and craftsmanship that takes center stage at this annual event.
More than 100 artists from all over the Pacific Northwest will display and sell their works of art and creations, including handcrafted jewelry, pottery, quilts, clothing, ornaments, toys, sculptures, original paintings, home décor, wood turned salt and pepper mills, soaps and antler lamps … and that’s just for starters!
The variety is amazing, and there’s sure to be something for everyone’s taste and décor. And heck, it’s a perfect time to get going on that Christmas list with unique, one-of-a-kind gifts that no chain store can compete with.
The festival takes place in Depot Park (in downtown Whitefish), this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The festival is open on Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition to arts and crafts, there’s also the food! There’s sure to be something for everyone’s taste: from crepes and BBQ to wok fried soba noodles and kettle corn, homemade ice cream, and everything in between. And the kids aren’t forgotten either – there is bungee jumping and face painting to keep them entertained.
Of course, a fruit-oriented festival isn’t complete without a way to show off aficionados’ cooking or – in this case – baking prowess. The Huckleberry Days Bake-Off takes place on Saturday, Aug. 10. Spectacular huckleberry desserts are the star, as local cooks and bakers square off for cash prizes, ribbons and bragging rights. There are two categories – commercial and non-commercial – and entries are judged on appearance, texture, taste and originality.
Elsewhere around Whitefish, the town will be buzzing the weekend of Aug. 9-11 with a host of fun activities for folks young and old: a Huckleberry Pancake Breakfast and Flea Market takes place at the Mountain Mall; the Whitefish Lake Swim and 31st Annual Big Mountain Trail Run takes place on Aug. 10, and the Whitefish Duck Derby and nonprofit fair starts at 3 p.m. on Aug. 11. And don’t forget, Festival Amadeus has performances Aug. 9 and 10 at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center.
You can find out more information about the Huckleberry Days Arts Festival, bake off and other weekend events at: www.whitefishchamber.org, or by calling the Whitefish Chamber at 862-3501.
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