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Fall by the Wayside

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The Arlee community decided to celebrate the changing season with their first Fall Festival at the end of last week. Business owners and volunteers set up stands with pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, apples, peppers, hand-made items and games for the kids. 

“The revenue from this is nice but it’s more about community involvement,” said Shannon Patton of the Community Development Corporation. 

Levi Conover, 7, rolled a pumpkin over the parking lot bowling alley towards a set of pins. Hay bales kept the pumpkin from getting away. He said he preferred bowling balls to pumpkins.

“They go straighter,” he said after watching his pumpkin roll around the last pin he needed to knock down, but his brother Tyler, 5, thought the pumpkins were fun.

“I like to roll them and knock down those,” he said pointing at the pins.

Teigen Hettick, 8, looked at a canning jar trying to guess how many plastic critters it contained for a candy prize after he took a turn at pumpkin bowling. 

Peyton Lammerding, 13, was in charge of the bowling. She sold the jams she made with her sister Taylor, 16, in between setting up the bowling pins. They agreed to call their jam business Bickering Sisters.

“I’ve got apple dip, apple pie, green gage vanilla and strawberry rhubarb is my favorite,” she said of the flavors. “We are doing this as a way to earn money and learn business skills.”

Past the wine bottles upcycled into drinking glasses and forks bent into jewelry, folks purchased pumpkins and produce undamaged by bowling from Michael Mohler, 13, and his brother Caleb Mohler, 10. Michael is looking forward to winter.

“The fall harvest means work,” he said. “You have to clean and pull up the fall harvest. We had lots of pumpkins this year, about 50 bins with 50-75 pumpkins in each bin. We took a lot of them to stores in Missoula and St. Ignatius.”

The festival wasn’t packed with people during the day but more attended the Native Theater in the evening with a play by William S. Yellow Robe, Jr. On Saturday, Andre Floyd performed live music.

“We did this for the economic vitality of the community and community building,” said Donna Mollica of the CDC. “We’ve got to pull the people off the southbound lanes to help local business. The split highway has been horrendous for business.”

Mollica considers this year’s event a starting place for the future.

“We planned this in only a couple weeks but we want to continue it next year,” she said. “It’s good for people and families to have things to do. This takes people away from the weekend chores and gets them together.”

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