Welcoming you at the door was Basha, whose smile is as big as the state of Montana. In the photo she is holding a heaping helping of her hospitality, which in this case was a yummy pile of nachos with all the fixings.
Basha was solely responsible for this extravaganza. Oh, she had help from local merchants, who donated door prizes, and of course no market is complete without vendors. But this event was Basha's idea. Plus, she made the nachos, set up the chairs, coordinated the vendors and entertainers, made the signs, placed advertising, and all in all created a wonderful atmosphere of joy.
When Basha does something, she throws her whole heart and soul into it. No wonder everyone who came had fun.
This was foremost a celebration of farmers markets -- the event poster put up around town invited people to "Meet your favorite market vendor!" Thus, when people entered the auditorium today they first saw a montage of market photos taken throughout several seasons. I supplied many photos, but Basha did all the creative work.
There were only three vendors. But size isn't everything. Enthusiasm counts for a lot. (Think of the Wibaux farmers market.)
The first vendor I talked to came from Livingston with handmade blankets and hair decorations. Sandra, in business as Bo Blankets LLC, described how she carefully chooses coordinating fleecy fabrics, hand-ties the knots, and creates charming care tags from the fabric scraps. Some scraps also brighten up headbands and pony tail elastics. I bought a large blanket and expect to be very warm this winter!
Tom and his wife, Melanie, offered made-in-Montana items they buy at discount and often refurbish. There were a lot of things to look at on their tables, but this belt studded with beer bottle caps particularly caught my eye. There was definitely something for everyone!
And, lucky for everyone who came, Riza made an appearance with samples of her Tumblewood Teas.
New flavors have arrived: Chico Cherry (rooibos tea with natural flavors), Paradise Valley (black tea with real vanilla bean pieces), and Mountain Mint Chocolate, a black pu'erh with bits of spearmint and peppermint leaves, as well as chocolate shavings, which make up a rich tea that could replace an afternoon pick-me-up candy bar. I'm just sayin'.
My favorite new blend was Montana Almond Joy, green tea (which makes it especially smooth), along with almond slices and coconut shavings (see photo below). Riza has served this blend as a mocha latte and plans to convince a Big Timber coffee shop to offer this latte, too. Now that will draw in a lot of customers, I'm sure!
When you see Riza at a farmers market, first taste the tea, but then look for other items she sells to help make the tea-drinking experience more pleasant. She has glass teapots and cups, wool cup cozies (which may soon be made from alpaca), and much more. As her sign indicates, the "tumblebees" of Sweet Grass County are very busy helping to supply her customers with honey.
And last but by no means least, while shopping, customers enjoyed a free concert, featuring Dave Christensen, who delighted the audience with foot-tapping songs . . .
cowboy poet June Elges, who started out with a sober-minded poem (not written by her) as a memorial to the victims of 9/11, but then had everyone laughing with hilarious descriptions of ranch life (Ranchin' Grandma, who helps her grandson round up a bull; Doc's Advice, wherein a ranch woman spends the day chasing sheep, calving, and fixing a fence, but then worries that she didn't have time to take her doctor's advice to get on that treadmill to get some exercise; and Horse Sense, which describes June's granddaughter when she was first asked to herd sheep in fog) . . .
and Basha herself, a talented musician who delights Big Timber every time she sings.
A good time was had by all.