Sunday, October 25, 2009

Montana oranges and other good things

This time of year is hunting season. Many women do hunt, but mostly it is the menfolk who go off before dawn to spend time with nature and their guns.

Thus, you see many "hunter's widow" sales, with stores luring in shoppers with bargains and free treats. While the men hunt, the women shop. I'm happy to be in the latter group.

But I am also hunting for markets that offer holiday foods. Some of these call themselves farmers markets, but I think it is more accurate to call them holiday markets. Someone pointed out to me these sellers could easily be farmers, trying to make money in the off-season by creating crafts and sharing canned goods, so call them what you will.

In any case, today was the first annual Hunters' Widows Shop-a-Rama at the Reed Point High School. The 25 vendors, all women, provided a variety of goods for sale, including jewelry, handbags, pottery, candles, soap, cosmetics, and some food items. Not everything was handmade, but the items represented serious home-based businesses.

The fun part of this event was how it was set out as a kind of mini mall in the various classrooms. Hand-lettered signs by the elementary school students described the vendors in each room, and during the afternoon students delivered free homemade cookies and other refreshments to those stuck behind tables and busy with buyers.

Customers could pick up their own free cookies and coffee at a table by the school cafeteria.

While I was there, plenty of customers -- mostly women -- were surrounding vendors and having a good time. In this small town (population 200 or so), any event is cause to get out and mingle.

I took some photos of the food I saw. The most intriguing was the box labeled Montana Oranges. It was being used to hold jars of canned jams, and the vendor only laughed when I asked her where the oranges grew. Someone had given her the box and she was as mystified as I was. If anyone can shed light on this mysterious product, let me know!

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