This morning I attended the Montana Marketplace at the convention center in the Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts, downtown Great Falls. I woke up to snow, a hint that we may have winter this year after all! But, that little bit of moisture with our warm temps didn’t even slow down the excited exhibitors at the Montana Marketplace.
I’ve attended the Montana Marketplace before but I visited with three people who were first-time attendees. All of them said, what a beautifully laid out show. The convention center really is a beautiful meeting space and the booths were all curtained with tall black draping. It was a pretty sight to see.
I was on the look-out for products grown or produced in Central Montana. The first one I came across was Montana Sweetgrass, Etc. owned by Toni McClue. It was a stunning booth with the tall sweetgrass displayed in vases. A variety of candles and bath salts rounded out the display. Very nice. And, I’ve used the products before and I like them!
Toni is from the Brady, MT area just north of Great Falls and has worked hard to develop her unique products, all made from native sweetgrass.
This photo of the Sg threads booth does not do it justice! You really need to see (and touch) this alpaca fiber to appreciate the quality. I chatted with one of the owners. He and his wife raise alpacas near Cascade, MT (50 – 60 of them).
The colors of the dyed alpaca were very pretty. I also learned that alpaca fiber is incredibly strong and durable, contains no lanolin and is hypo allergenic. One more tidbit – alpaca is five times warmer than sheep’s wool.
Products displayed at Sg threads included wet felted scarves and wraps (shown in the photo), woven bags and purses, woven rugs and throws and bars of goats’ milk soap wrapped in felted alpaca. The felted alpaca around the soap acts kind of like a loofa.
Tomorrow (Saturday) the Montana Marketplace is open to the public so keep your gift list in mind and possibly find a treat for yourself, everything from hand crafted products to food products. You’ll be supporting a local Montana entrepreneur and I bet you will be amazed at all of the talent we have in this state.