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Cherry harvest looks good, annual festival a success

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POLSON – This year’s cherry harvest is looking good.

That’s the word from Bruce Johnson, president of the Flathead Lake Cherry Growers Cooperative. He said a lot of fruit is growing on the area’s cherry trees and growers have been watering a lot due to warm temperatures. 

Johnson said most growers are about a week away from the harvest, which will last about three weeks. 

Some growers of Early Robin, Vann and Rainier cherry varieties have been selling along Montana Highway 35. 

Festival a success

Jackie Cripe, the founder of the Polson Main Street Flathead Cherry Festival, said last weekend’s event attracted between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors on Saturday and Sunday. 

More than 120 vendors came this year and sold their wares on three blocks of Main Street and two blocks of Third Avenue, she said. 

“We had a fantastic crowd,” she said, noting such things as cherry juice, lemonade, jewelry, aprons, potholders, pies, tarts and scones were sold. 

Cripe, who started the festival in 2001 and ran it for 14 years by herself, said the festival has done well the past 15 years. 

She recruited others to help as part of a committee of the Polson Business Community the past few years. The committee – which includes Ken Avison, Marilyn Frame, Barbara Hammons and Boone Goddard – will take over for Cripe completely next year. 

Jackie and her husband Mike are retiring as owners of Jackie M’s shoe store at 212 Main St. 

Winners announced

Ken Avison announced winners of the pie eating and cherry pit spitting contests. 

Jesse Etwin, in the 16 year and over category, Justice Moore, in the 11-15 years category, and Zander Disney, in the 10 and under category, won the pie eating contests.

Jarred Stermens, 30 feet, 10 inches, Justice Moore, 17 feet, 9 inches, and Kidren McVeigh, 10 feet, 8 inches, won the cherry pit spitting contests. 

Twenty people competed in the pie eating, and 53 in the pit spitting, Avison said. Winners received gift certificates to local businesses ranging from $25 to $30. 

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