By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

BIG SKY – The Hungry Moose Market and Deli is celebrating 20 years of business on June 29 with a community party at the Town Center stage.

The festivities kick off at 5 p.m. with complimentary food and drinks, games and face painting for the kids. Local honky-tonk country rock band Bottom of the Barrel will take the stage at 6 p.m., followed by Bozeman’s eight-piece rhythm, blues, rock and country band Bluejack at 8 p.m.

“We realized we’d been running our business and being a part of the growth of this community for 20 years,” said Hungry Moose co-owner Jackie Robin. “It’s our opportunity to say thank you to Big Sky.”

When Jackie and her husband Mark first moved to Big Sky in the fall of 1993 they immediately saw a need for fresh fruit and vegetables. The following summer, the couple and their 9-month old son Andrew spent every Wednesday setting up a small stand in Westfork Meadows called the “Big Sky Farmer’s Market” where they sold fresh goods Jackie had bought from farmers in Four Corners and Manhattan earlier that morning.

“It was a huge success, and all our customers asked if we could keep it going in the winter,” Jackie said. “By the end of summer, the idea was born to open a small store focusing on fresh produce and natural food.”

That fall, the Robins opened a 700-square-foot shop in the current Black Diamond Rentals space, between the Meadow Village and Town Center, and took over the other half of the building in 1998. The Robins continued to hold the Big Sky Farmer’s market in the store’s parking lot for the next 12 years.

“The diversity of what we do, plus interacting with the local community, part-time residents and visitors getting their first take of Big Sky keeps it fun,” Mark said.

Big Sky resident Barbara Rowley was one of the store’s first customers and has come to view the Moose as more than just a grocery store.

“The Moose is like an extension of my home,” Rowley said in an email. “Instead of going out to the garage to get something, we run to the Moose.” The first time Rowley visited the Moose in its original location, she saw a pomegranate in the produce bins.

“Seeing this exotic piece of fruit sitting in a bin in cold and isolated Montana two decades ago made me realize this store was setting out to do something different,” she said. “I’ve been a regular customer ever since.”

The market moved to its current Town Center location in the spring of 2005, and the expansion continued last summer with the opening of their store inside Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Mall.

“Everything we’ve done has happened naturally,” Jackie said. “The store grew organically with the town.”

Having raised three children in Big Sky, Mark and Jackie have played active roles in the community’s growth, whether it be building local parks or working with Friends of Big Sky Education to bring the high school here.

Over the years, the Hungry Moose has supported organizations like Arts Council of Big Sky, Big Sky Broadway, Eagle Mount’s Big Sky Kids Camp, and the LPHS Big Horn Booster Club, among many others.

Some of these groups plan to give back to the Moose at its June 29 event.

Members of the Big Horn Booster Club will hand out cotton candy at the party and assist with cleanup, and members of Big Sky Broadway will help with games and face painting.

Visit hungrymoose.com for more info.