COLUMBIA FALLS — The ’54 Chevy is mounted on the wall, the towering rickshaw is parked out front and the expansive lot is freshly coated with new asphalt.
Let the weekly community celebration begin in Columbia Falls.
The Columbia Falls Community Market is ushering in the season of farmers markets and lively summer gatherings with its inaugural event, May 19.
The Coop behind O’Brien’s Liquor & Wine at 830 First Ave. W. is hosting a weekly market every Thursday night from 5 to 8 p.m. The market, which is free and open to the public, is entering its second year with over 50 vendors offering fresh produce, foods and desserts and arts and crafts items, alongside live music. Also new this year, a ping-pong tournament will be organized. There is also a specific vendor location set aside for students who want to sell anything and everything, from bake sale items to fire wood.
The Flathead Valley is a rich source of weekly markets. Nearly 80 markets across Montana are opening for the season with fresh produce and other locally grown foods, illustrating the state’s strong agriculture industry.
“I encourage Montanans and visitors to our state to experience local farmers markets and support Montana farmers and ranchers,” said Ron de Yong, director of the Montana Department of Agriculture and a Creston farmer.
Separate from The Coop’s market, the Columbia Falls Farmers’ Market is also on Thursday evenings at Eagle’s Nest Antiques and Home Furnishings, 2400 Ninth St. W. There will also be Saturday markets from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
O’Brien Byrd, the organizer and founder of The Coop’s community market, is building on last year’s success by making the weekly market bigger and better.
Last week crews established a newly paved parking lot where vendors will set up shop for the evening. Inside The Coop, fresh sawdust adorns the ground. A new bar, with the hood of a vintage Chevy in the backdrop, will serve local spirits and brews from across the valley on a weekly basis. A rickshaw welcoming attendees will sit out front, drawing in the crowds. And the stage has new speakers that will expand the reach of the lively music, which this year will include familiar local acts as well as renowned outsiders, such as The Last Revel.
“It’s like the coolest concert in the middle of town with everybody you know here, from your old teacher to your nephew,” Byrd said.
This year’s market is starting on the heels of a renewed effort to revitalize the brand of Columbia Falls. Earlier this year, Byrd, who was born and raised here, organized a group of 13 people from all walks of life who brainstormed a newly designed logo and slogan for the community.
“We want something that reminds us of our heritage, and there was nothing out there like that,” Byrd said.
Byrd elicited the help of Wheelie Creative, a design firm in Whitefish, to help create the logo.
The end result is a newly fashioned logo with Columbia Mountain in the backdrop and Flathead River running through the heart of the town’s name. As Byrd and others hope, it will illustrate the community’s connection to adventuring in the outdoors, echoing the new slogan, “Adventure Lives Here.”
Byrd is offering the logo to the public domain, meaning anyone can use it for products or advertising as long as they donate a portion to the Columbia Falls Foundation for community projects.
“There’s a source of community pride with the community market and with the awesome stimulus we’re seeing in our town,” he said, referencing the new hotel and other businesses popping up throughout Columbia Falls. “This community is slowly becoming tighter and tighter. And this logo project is one of those things that can help to unify us and bring us one notch closer.”
Farmers Markets in Northwest Montana
For a complete schedule of markets across the state, visit here.
Saturdays, May 7-Oct. 15, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Flathead Valley Community College
Tuesdays, May 31-Sept. 27, 5-7:30 p.m.
North end of Central Avenue
Saturdays, June 4-Oct. 15, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. / Wednesdays, May 18-Oct. 12, 3-6 p.m.
Masonic Temple Parking Lot
Columbia Falls Community Market
Thursdays, May 19-Sept. 22, 5-8 p.m.
The Coop behind O’Brien’s Liquor and Wine
Columbia Falls Farmers’ Market
Thursdays, May 12-Sept. 15, 5-8 p.m.
Eagle’s Nest Antiques & Home Furnishings
Wednesdays, May 25-Sept. 14, 4-6:30 p.m.
Thursdays, May 12-Oct. 7, 12-6 p.m.
Chamber of Commerce Parking Lot
Fridays, May 6-Oct. 14, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Third Avenue West, Downtown
Montana Co-Op Market, Polson
Saturdays, year-round, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., 401 Main St.
Saturdays, April 23-Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sanders County Fairgrounds
Thursdays, May 5-Sept. 12, 3-7 p.m.
106 Main St.
Sundays, June 19-Sept. 4, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Saturdays, June 3-Sept. 30, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Wednesdays, July 6-Sept. 28, 4-6 p.m.
Trout Creek Park
Fridays, June 24-Sept. 2, 3:30-6 p.m.
Great Northern Raft Whitewater Raft Resort