Edible Bozeman

Journey to the Center of the State

For the Love of Chokecherries

The drive from Bozeman to Lewistown takes about two and a half hours. Once you get to Big Timber and get off I-90 and onto U.S. Highway 191 and head north, you’re entering into the great plains of central Montana.

Now, there is no denying that our Bozeman skyline is epic. The Gallatin Range. The Bridgers. The Tobacco Roots. We surely live in one of the most scenic places in the Lower 48.

But a visit to central Montana offers a brand-new perspective about what Big Sky Country really means. There are still mountains, but not as high as the Gallatin and Crazy mountain ranges. There are fewer buildings. The sky is really just bigger. And according to photographer and Lewistown native Lynn Donaldson, “The drive up there, especially in September, is mind-blowing. This is Big Sky Country.”

What’s so special about September? Lewistown is the chokecherry capital of America, and the first weekend in September brings with it the 35th Annual Chokecherry Festival. It’s a weekend jam-packed (pun intended) with all things chokecherry.

The small, tart, dark-red, almost-purple fruits that grow wild in Montana are perfectly suited for syrups, jams, jellies, wines, candies, reductions, chutneys, and so many other tasty treats.

And if you ever want to find out how far you can “spit a pit,” here’s your chance. Jennifer Puckett from the Lewistown Area Chamber of Commerce says the Chokecherry Pit Spitting Contest will return this year after a two-year hiatus. “It’s an exciting year for Lewistown,” she says. “The Pit Spit is funny to watch. And we are hosting a special four-and-a-half-hour Chokecherry Train on the Charlie Russell Choo Choo.” It runs on Sunday with live entertainment, a prime rib dinner, and onboard entertainment including an old-fashioned shootout and robbery.

Saturday, September 7 kicks off with the Chokecherry 5k and 10k Run/Walk and an outdoor Chokecherry Pancake Breakfast on Main Street. The streets will be lined with food trucks, artists, local vendors, and all things chokecherry. The Spring Creek Hutterite community sells Hoot dogs. Kathy’s Creations has Donaldson’s favorite chokecherry jam. And there’s a chokecherry lemonade that is so good it almost requires sharing.

For more information about the schedule of events, Chokecherry Run, and the Chokecherry Train, please visit the following websites, respectively:

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