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Montana Seed Show draws crowds

 

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Plenty of learning was to be had as hundreds of people bustled through the halls of Harlem High School Friday and Saturday, but it wasn't the typical school day. Instead of sitting in classrooms, the people from along the Hi-Line came to the Montana Seed Show to visit with different vendors and view booths from area organizations. The event, which began with seed potatoes, has grown over the past 61 years and now includes auctions, a chili cook off, a car show and various other shows. Some people came to get their blood work done, while others came to talk about agriculture. The bread, pie and cookies contests were hits. Visitors gathered in small groups around interesting booths and brightly colored art work and quilts to talk about their lives. Lenny Erickson has brought cars to the car show in year's past, but didn't this year, He said, standing in a group of men from Turner. "It's so pretty, it ruins the show," he said, a smile spreading across his face. His favorite, a 1951 Mercury, was not represented at the show. He still enjoyed browsing through the hot rods, tractors and refurbished cars and trucks, though. Three youngsters from Havre also meandered from vehicle to vehicle. They liked the newer model cars, ohing and ahing over a shiny black Camaro and a black Challenger. In another room, artists sat by their works for sale. Rocky Boy artist Algie Piapot showed several of his pieces of artwork for the first time this year at the show. His grandparents told him stories while growing up, and he grew up in a traditional way, he said. Now he incorporates those stories and learning experiences into his art with bright acrylic paints. Some artists shy away from bright colors and chose to use earth tones instead, he said shrugging. But he likes color. "I use it whenever I can." Despite a down-turned market, Piapot said he sold several works during the show, an occurrence that made him glad to have come. In the gym, a group of women chattered as they spun wool on spinning wheels. Several years ago, the women decided to learn how, and now they meet once a month. Some of the women own their own sheep which are sheered by others. They then card the wool and spin it, sometimes even dying it. "It's peaceful," said Hillary Maxwell, who is from Chinook. She spins for projects, she added. Mischelle Fisher, also from Chinook, uses her finished yarn for loom weaving. Each year that they've come to the seed show, and many people have paused by their circle. "It's always different. It fits all ages," Fisher said, adding that it even crosses gender lines. Even though the show has grown since its inception, it hasn't strayed from its roots in agriculture, and several equipment companies and product companies had booths in the gym. Randy Reed and Mark Turner spoke with people about Pioneer corn. The corn has been genetically modified to make it resistant to drought and herbicides and to make it compatible with short growing seasons comprised of the northern U.S.'s shorter days, said Reed, an independent dealer from Chinook. While wheat is the staple crop on the area plains, corn is becoming more common, he added.

 
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