We spent the weekend near Lewistown, a neat town of about 6000 people right in the middle of the state. It still has a downtown highlighted by wonderful old sandstone buildings, built by immigrants from Croatia in the early 1900s; at one point, as many as 200 stone buildings had been built, but now there are only about 45 remaining. A decade ago, the town was looking run-down and many downtown store fronts were empty; in recent years, the downtown has started to recover, and the storefronts are filling up with restaurants and stores. An old-fashioned drive-in movie theater still runs in the summer.
One of Lewistown's best events is the Chokecherry Festival every fall, the Saturday after Labor Day. Main Street closes and is filled with booths; in addition to chokecherry jellies, jams, and syrups, you can buy Mary Kay cosmetics, magnetic therapy jewlery, round etched saw blades, stained glass, log furniture, wildlife lampshades, painted birdhouses, Usborne books, painted hand saws, garlic braids, tabletop fountains, wood furniture, blankets, purses, yard art, knit scarves, custom-made stuffed animals, Pampered Chef kitchen items, marshmallow guns, bowls and mirrors made from dyed lariats, metal art, horseshoe furniture, painted cast-iron skillets, jewelry, lap quilts, painted plates, knitted baby hats, food from sweet popcorn to kabobs, embroidered vests and jackets, airbrush tattoos, painted license plates, pillows, windchimes, produce, candles, kitchen linens, rag rugs, etched wood, framed wildlife photos, pottery, kites, earrings, doll clothes, chainsaw art – bears and moose, dress-up crowns for little girls, barnboard frames for pictures, handmade brooms, and cribbage boards. Many of the produce and quilt booths are run by the local Hutterites, distinctive in their long dark dresses and kerchiefs, or their beards, striped shirts and suspenders. A motorcycle show shares the event, as do bicycle tricks and music by local kids. We went last year - it's not the best place for lots of excitement, but people were out having fun on a lovely late-summer day and we enjoyed it. This year, we were coping with water shortages and missed it.