Posted: Feb 2, 2013 2:43 PM by Laura Wilson - MTN News
WHITEFISH - It's a barter unlike most others you'll come across in Montana, but it's one that continues to bring hundreds of competitors and spectators from across the state.
Reporter Laura Wilson took a trip to the Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish to find out what it takes to become the next Black Star Barter champion.
What would you do for a free year supply of beer? It's a question that will be answered this weekend, during the annual Black Star Barter, although brewery owners say they're not even sure what's in store for the highly anticipated event.
"The barter is really an event designed for spontaneity. It's designed to kind of fall in line with the quirkiness of the Flathead Valley," said Great Northern Brewery GM Marcus Duffy.
People are willing to do just about anything to win that year's supply of beer. Last year, a man stuck nearly $3 worth of change up his nose. But unfortunately, that stunt didn't earn him the top prize.
"[We've had] everything from a dog howling along with a harmonica player to green eggs and ham. Last year, we had two Volkswagen busses come in as part of a barter item," Duffy recalled. "There are no guidelines. If you can think of it, we'll help facilitate it. We want to see it come across that stage."
"You'd be a fool not to enter. You can just come up with whatever you want. Entering the competition itself was worth it, because everyone who entered got basically four cases of beer anyway since they were there all day. You won before you started," said 2011 winner Tucker Sargent.
The barter was brought back to Whitefish two years ago after going on hiatus for more than 10 years, and it was Missoula resident Tucker Sargent and his co-worker who claimed the 2011 victory.
"It was awesome. Probably one of the top 10 experiences for me was winning [the barter]. We worked at a radio station so we decided to write and produce four radio commercials. We actually put quite a bit of time into them. Our boss joked that we put more work into winning free beer than we did into our paychecks," Sargent said.
It was a pair of VW busses that earned the 52 cases of beer last year, and brewery owners say each year the event continues to evolve.
"People were able to see the first year what we were looking for. The next year, people thought 'well let's up the ante a little bit.' I think this year, we're going to see that bar go a little bit higher again. It's not just about the item. It's also about the spirit you bring with it, so be thoughtful and creative. I think that will get you a long way," said Duffy.
Registration for the event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday in front of the Great Northern Brewery. The barter is expected to begin around 4 p.m., and spectators are encouraged to come and enjoy the free event.