POLSON – The Flathead Valley is famous for its beautiful lake, and recreation, but it’s also known for something else.
Colder weather pushed back cherry season a couple of weeks this year, but the annual flathead cherry festival was still going strong over the weekend.
With pit spitting and pie eating contests, local business owners say the festival brings in crowds.
“It’s one of our best days of the year, it’s very good. That’s how you get through the winter here in Polson,” Cove Deli and Pizza owner Ken Avison said.
The restaurant has been operating as a family affair for 16 years, and they keep track of the contest winners.
Every year, thousands of people flock to town for the events.
“The only thing in my mind was eat pie, eat pie,” said Teagan Voorhese who won the kid’s pie eating competition.
She’s from Jackson Wyoming, but her family spends a week on Flathead Lake every year. This was her first time at the festival.
“It’s actually a lot more fun than I expected. I expected it to be all cherries, except there’s a lot of food trucks that aren’t cherry themed,” Voorhese told MTN News.
Food trucks, local art, and face painting were just a taste of the 75 booths you could find.
Marlene Hayes who runs Hayes Orchard with her husband says a freeze pushed back some of the other orchards.
“Ours weren’t too bad actually, so I’m kind of happy, and probably after tomorrow I won’t be selling cherries this year, we’ll be done,” Hayes said.
They’ve already been selling cherries for a week and Hayes says their southern location helps them get nicer weather, and a head start on the cherry season.
Some kids from the Polson High School Choir were out fundraising on Saturday. President Tayler Owens says their budget might have to make some cuts this coming year.
“Oh the cherry festival’s a really great way for the community to get together, there’s a lot of fun stuff, a lot of good food,” Owens said.
“Yeah, it’s just a really awesome way for the community of Polson to do something neat, cuz we don’t do that very often.”