Snowflakes dusted vibrant purple beets, leeks and emerald cupcake squash while shoppers made their final selections of the season at the Clark Fork Market on Saturday.

Fewer vendors and customers turned out Saturday for the weekly outdoor Farmers Market compared to crowds that packed the parking lot adjacent to Caras Park.

Yet, many loyal customers still visited their favorite stands to stock up on produce for the long winter ahead.

"For the past month, it has really slowed down but we have such a dedicated customer base," said Arlyce Rosko with County Rail Farm in Huson. "They're really loyal so we have a pretty steady stream of customers no matter what."

Rosko said the farm has spent the last couple of weekends trying to clear out the produce they have in storage such as green tomatoes, potatoes and winter squash.

Tracy Potter-Finns, the owner of County Rail Farm, said this season was her busiest since she began her stand at the market in 2011.

"I think this market is kind of exploding with just more and more people coming down." Potter-Finns said.

Saturday also marked the last weekend of the season for the Missoula Farmers Market located farther up Higgins Avenue by the XXXXs.

Katie Engleson and Jason Kainz bundled up to pick up some essentials on Saturday.

"The only reason we're out today is because it's the last chance," Engleson said.

Engleson said she visits the markets regularly throughout the summer to get things like tomatoes, greens, carrots and cheese from Lifeline Farm.

Sarah Thurmond also stocked up on some onions and garlic, which she uses to make wood-fired pizzas at Ten Spoon Winery. She said this is her last weekend at the winery for the season but said she makes "the best wood-fired pizzas in Montana" throughout the summer.   

"It's pretty sad for me when this happens this time of year," Thurmond said. "I get pretty much everything here like my onions, garlic, tomatoes, spinach...everything"

Thurmond said she also likes coming to the markets to see familiar faces. For a while, she said she tried to haggle with a teenage boy who helps run his family's stand.

"That kid haggles you back so I stopped because I was paying more," she said.

Getting to know community members and local farmers is also one of the reasons Meghan Montgomery regularly visits the market.

Montgomery sampled some tiny reddish orange Seckel pears. She said she likes trying different fruits as they come into season, but gets carrots no matter what because "grocery store carrots just shouldn't exist."  

"This time of year squash is great and and beets are really good," Montgomery said, adding that she might pick up ingredients to make borscht.

"I'm in a soup mood," she said.

Missoulians can continue to get winter produce and other locally made goods such as cheeses, eggs, cured meats and preserves at the Missoula Valley Winter Market held at the Missoula Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays beginning Nov. 9.

"At first I was sad it's over because it's been a really fun season but I think we're all ready for the break and ready to gear up for next year," said Dasia Canales with County Rail Farm.

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