Whitefish, Montana, is the kind of small Western town where locals will nod at strangers passing on the street with a polite “Good morning” but also the kind of place where people will ask your last name if you tell them you grew up here. It’s that small-town feel and strong community ethos—along with Rocky Mountain scenery, recreation-friendly lakes, and close proximity to Glacier National Park—that bring a crush of tourists and vacation homeowners into the valley every summer. It also helps that we have two local breweries and a microdistillery right in town.
The Tuesday evening farmers’ market runs all summer through the end of September with an ample supply of organic, family-farmed vegetables and fruit, specialty food trucks, and local craftspeople and artists. Its only flaw, year-round residents like me grumble, is the crush of crowds during the summer months. The market is held in the public park in front of the busy Burlington Northern train yard, where both oil trains and Amtrak’s passenger line run straight through the middle of town. Train workers have been known to complain that they can’t get to work on Tuesday nights, and with its downtown location and popularity, the farmers market can be hard to maneuver for those just wanting to bicycle in and grab their CSA shares.
Come September and the school season, though, tourists disappear and vacation homeowners trickle away. The locals come out of the woodwork (or, more likely, out of their backcountry camping and kayaking trips) and spend a little more time lingering at a market big enough for variety but small enough that we know every farmer’s name. It’s got food, music, art, and all our friends. The only thing missing is a beer stand, but luckily the Great Northern Brewing Company is right across the street for a post-market brew.
Antonia Malchik writes about food, education, environment, and travel. Follow her on Twitter @amalchik.