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Shriners' annual Vidalia onion sales coming soon


May 17, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Chinook area Shriners are taking orders for the club's spring Vidalia Sweet Onion sale. Local orders can be placed by calling or visiting Pehrson's Tire Shop in Chinook. The onions are $13 for a 10-pound bag. (l-r standing) Local Shriners Frank Billmayer, Bob Sharples and Larry Surber with Frank Sharples, seated, will be taking orders for and delivering Vidalia onions once they arrive.

Members of the North Central Montana Shrine Club are expecting to receive their usual shipment of three tons of Vidalia onions "sometime around the 20th of May." The annual sale of the delectable Georgia onion, according to Shrine officials, is their best fundraiser of the year. Onion sale proceeds provide money to help kids, and their families, with travel expenses to the Shriners' Hospital in Spokane. The North Central Montana club includes members from both Blaine and Hill Counties.

The trademarked onions coming to this part of Montana are produced by the Onionman Company in Glennville, Georgia, in the heart of the Vidalia Sweet Onion production belt. One of the organizers for the local onion sale said, "There are other onion growers who sell to civic groups but the Glennville Farm has a special passion for Shriners. It's a three-generation farm and the owners are Shriners."

Onion seeds are planted in September and the 'sets' are transplanted after about eight weeks. In 2015 Vidalia onion farmers produced 268 million pounds of the sweet onions. The 11,000+ acres of onions, with about 80,000 sets per acre, is harvested in May and June and has an estimated value of $120 million.

Local Shriners will be selling the 10-pound bags of onions for $13. One challenge, per the local Shriners, is that the Vidalia onions "get here when they get here." Larry Surber, of Chinook, explained, "We never have an exact date as to when the onions will be delivered. It's usually around the end of May or early June." Production reports indicate because of a dryer than normal growing season the onions for the 2017 harvest will be available a bit earlier than normal.

Shriners work to make sure everyone gets a chance at onions each season. Various club members will deliver bags to customers or pre-ordered bags will be available at an announced location in each community when the onions arrive. Last year 1,200 pounds of onions were sold in Blaine County.

To preorder onions in Blaine County you can stop by or call Pehrson's Tire Shop (Highway 2 east) in Chinook, at 357-2570. Or call 399-1845 or 390-1803 to preorder onions. In prior years most of the onions are presold before they are delivered and the extra bags ordered don't last very long. If you want Sweet Vidalia Onions this spring, best to call and place your order or contact a Shriner in your community.


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