As summer begins to wind down and harvest season approaches, towns across Montana celebrate their agricultural heritage. It’s a time when communities gather to celebrate fall’s bounty, from sugarbeets and chokecherries to craft beer and upland game.
These lively, authentic gatherings connect locals and visitors alike with long-time traditions: cherry pit spitting competitions, celebrity pheasant hunts and stick-horse parades.
Here are five of Montana’s most colorful autumnal events.
Lewistown’s Chokecherry Festival on September 6: Twenty-four years ago, Lewistown was named the state’s official Chokecherry Capital. Ever since, the wild-grown, sour fruit takes center stage each fall in jams, jellies, syrups, wine and other delicacies. Nearly 5,000 attendees join the jubilant atmosphere along historic Main Street, watching pit-spitting competitions, enjoying live entertainment and visiting with local artists.
Chinook’s Sugarbeet Festival from September 27 to 29: Once deemed the second strangest mascot in the U.S., the sugarbeet and its saccharine industry significantly impacted the northern town of Chinook. Each fall, the community rallies around the symbolic tuber with a unique festival. A BBQ, hay maze, playful shootout, drive-in movie, games, music and a sugarbeet growing competition are on the schedule this year.
Hamilton’s Annual McIntosh Apple Day on October 5: Each October, Hamilton hosts the biggest bake sale in Big Sky Country. Over 20,000 visitors attend the annual McIntosh Apple Day to buy old-fashioned baked goods filled with locally grown, hand picked fruit. Aromas of fall waft through the streets of Hamilton as apple butter bubbles, cider is freshly pressed, caramel is poured and families gather for fall’s festive fruit.
Havre’s Legends For Lights Pheasant Jamboree on October 10 to 13:
Havre is a spirited town bordering Canada in northern Montana. Every fall, the town invites NFL sports legends to join the community and hunt some of the state’s finest pheasant country. The weekend’s festivities include friendly competitions, pitting teams of locals and sports celebrities against each other as they compete in trapshooting, team hunting and culinary events. A final banquet culminates the festival, raising support and awareness for the Northern Lights Athletic Foundation and the MSU-Northern athletic program.
Tamarack Festival and Brewfest on Seeley Lake October 11 to 13: Tamaracks are the only species of coniferous trees that change color and lose their needles each fall. As the mountain forest turns golden with the changing season, the Tamarack Festival takes place around the pristine waters of Seeley Lake. It’s a celebration of autumn’s beauty, the annual harvest, the local artistic community and the state’s craft brewing industry. Sample locally made soups and sip warming ales. Peruse the arts and crafts stands, learn about the area’s history in ecology and silviculture, and take a hike in a forest of golden foliage. Tamarack Time is the perfect blend of good food, a warm community and fresh mountain air.
For more information about top events in Montana take a look at the Top Events USA selection of the annual main festivals and events in Montana.