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Autumn begins with the Ronan Harvest Festival

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RONAN — The 12th annual Harvest Festival was celebrated in Ronan last Saturday, Sept. 17 to mark the official start to autumn.

While the last 12 years have seen a lot of different events come and go, from chili cook offs to giant pumpkin contests, this year saw the two local cooperatives join in the fun. With music provided by the Western Montana Musician’s Co-op, and the Ronan Cooperative Brewery providing drinks, the busy day was complete with carnival games and a cornhole tourney, a petting zoo, a bounce house and a large vendor market. 

“It’s very exciting this year,” Ronan Chamber of Commerce member Lacy Cates commented. “We have a diverse group of vendors ... It’s a lot of good family fun.”

An event put together entirely by volunteers, the festival is made possible each year by the Harvest Fest committee, Ronan Chamber board members, local businesses along with community members who want to help out. “We definitely couldn’t do it without everyone pitching in,” Cates stated. “We are so lucky to have the best volunteers in our community.” 

One of the biggest draws the weekend festival brought was the annual Trail of Bales creations positioned around town. This year’s 1970s theme brought tie-dyes, Space Invaders, Flintstones and more to the streets of Ronan. With 34 entries initially, another was added last minute by the Salish Kootenai College. An updated map including the 35th entry is pictured on the next page and is also available online. 

“It’s been so fun with the haybales,” Cates laughed. “There are so many different methods of decorating them, some people add props … it’s just such a blast. And we do truly get a lot of people coming in from outside the area to see those haybales every day.”

This year’s winner will be the first to receive the Harvest Festival’s new Traveling Trophy. While in-person voting took place at the festival itself, people are still able to vote for their favorites online until Sept. 24 at: The winner will be announced at the online site as well. 

“I think (Harvest Fest) brings people together, kind of kicks off fall,” Cates said. “A lot of the events there are free, so it’s a good way to get people together and bring people to town for some fellowship.” 

Visit: to learn about more upcoming events in the Ronan area and ways to get involved. 

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