Huckleberry Found

We’d heard for years about the Trout Creek, Montana, Huckleberry Festival (Trout Creek being the official Huckleberry Capitol of Montana), but 2017 was the first year we were in town for it. It was a big deal. The three-day festival on the second weekend in August is the eventof the year for the town — and probably the county.

We walked through the many vendor booths set up Friday…

…where the entertainment on the stage had already started…

…and these birdfeeders made out of cowboy boots caught my eye (ah! but no sale — if we were to hang one outside our RV, it would blow away when we drove!):

The fire siren woke us up at seven on Saturday morning, announcing the start of the pancake breakfast and the biggest day for the festivities. One of the early events was a footrace along Route 200. Until we saw these signs, we had no idea there could be a detour, as the road seems to be the only one through the area!

We drove out to pick up some scones we’d found at a woman’s yard sale down the road, and in our absence, the masses had arrived:

The vendor booths were busy, and we were glad we went early to pick up some huckleberry jam we’d found.

If you’re a huckleberry fan, you might be interested to know that, in Montana, if a jam says “huckleberry” it has to be made from 100% huckleberries, or the label must identify the jam as “mixed berries” or “a blend.” We don’t know of any other state with this law — Montana is very protective of their huckleberry products and the purity of them, which is probably a reason why Montana huckleberry products are so popular. What we haven’t been able to figure out is why no one grows huckleberry bushes — they only grow wild. Maybe they don’t grow well in controlled environments or something.

Though the festival included a lot of activities, we were most enthralled with the parade. People lined up early to get their prime spot:

The parade was long and varied, though the only music came from a pipe and drum group, rather than the conventional high school bands we’re used to seeing:

Every form of transportation (except those that travel the air) seemed to be represented, from ATVs…

…to mini-bikes…

…to Viking ships (!)…

…to fire engines…

…to classic cars…

…to horses (a lot of those! This is Montana, after all)…

…even a covered wagon! Pulled by an ATV, rather than horses, which is sort of interesting… but hey! It’s a parade with a covered wagon in it!

It’s also a parade with floats, which are always fun and — believe it or not, informative. When you’re not from the area, floats will tell you what the local issues are. In this case, the sign says, “Sanders County Supports Public Lands — No Sales! No Transfers!”

We also found out, from this float, that the 2017 US Capitol Christmas tree will come from the Kootenai National Forest, which means maybe one of the trees we hiked past will be sacrificed for the honor of standing tall in our nation’s Capitol building.

And though I can’t identify the group that sponsored this terrific little float, the messages all over it were wonderful:

The blue bird’s sign shows the picture of a cigarette and says, “Don’t have to go Cold Turkey! Call the QUIT Hotline!” Other signs attached to the float say, “Clean Air Shows You Care,” “Please Don’t Provide Alcohol to Teens — It’s Unsafe — It’s Illegal — It’s Irresponsible.” And the sign on the side reads, “A Berry Healthy Home: Clean Air and Locked Liquor.”

Of course, the float the followed was sponsored by Budweiser and Michelob Ultra beer….

…but who better to close a parade held in a community surrounded by national forest land? Smokey!

Bob took video movies of the parade with his drone, which I’d post here if the media file would hold the big file, which it doesn’t… But trust me when I say he’s a better filmmaker than I am a photographer 🙂

It was easy to see why many local businesses locked their doors and posted “Closed for the Huck Fest” signs in their windows — it was a wonderful event, and definitely THE place to be in that corner of Montana on that weekend!


About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
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