Happy shoppers ventured down Vicksburg’s bluffs to Levee Street Saturday morning to kick-start the 2009 Farmers Market."
The first day is great — and overwhelming,” said vendor Kenly Ellerbee of the popular K-n-K Farms of Bovina. “We haven’t stopped.”
A steady line of customers waited to purchase plump eggplant, onions, peppers and squash along with both green and ripe tomatoes at the stand while busy staffers weighed and bagged selections and made change.
The market featured many vendors returning for this second season, with shoppers entertained by musicians Lee F. Abraham, Daniel Boone and Kenny Boone.
Parking areas near the lot at Grove and Levee streets filled early with buyers and browsers, but never got overcrowded.“We were very happy with the way the market went today,” volunteer market coordinator Mary Beth Lasseter said after tables emptied, truck beds were packed with tables and chairs and the lot cleared later Saturday afternoon.
“We were pleased with the number of vendors that we had and we’re excited to know there’ll be even more next week. It’s really a positive sign for the long-term growth of the market.”
Lasseter said vendors sold out of produce Saturday.
This is the second year for Vicksburg’s Farmers Market, which will run Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings through Aug. 29. Lasseter’s volunteer partners in running the market are Kristen Meehan and Lamar Horton.
Lasseter estimated that during the three-hour market, 400 to 500 customers made a visit. “But at no time did we have a real rush,” she said. “It was paced well and just steady all morning.”
At the table manned by Warren County Extension staff, nearly 80 people had dropped by in the first 90 minutes for advice and literature on making the most of their gardens, said Georgia Antoine and Herschel Hale, master gardener interns.
“We’ve been giving out a lot of information about Mississippi Medallions — plants that do well here in Mississippi,” Antoine said. Atop the Extension table was a dish arrangement featuring three Medallion winners in bloom — fire zinnea, Kong coleus and “flambe” chrysocephalum — along with arrangements of other native plants, handouts and Extension publications.
Karen Frederick was purchasing zucchini at a table manned by Vicksburg resident Mary Albert, whose space also sported cucumbers, onions, and cabbages as big as bowling balls. Albert says she grows them on a lot on Mississippi 27, using a compost mixture. “She has the magic touch,” said friend Charlotte DiRago, who said she was along “for moral support.”
Besides squash, tomatoes, watermelons, peaches and other produce, vendors sold baked goods, jams, preserves, candies, plants and garden decorations such as birdbaths and molded, painted stepping stones.
Sellers of baked goods are not required to have a health department inspection but must label every product with complete ingredient lists as well as their name, address and phone number. Each label must also indicated that the item has been “home processed,” Lasseter said.
Jordan Wright, 6, was helping her mother, Katie Wright, and grandmother, Cappy Martin, sell pralines, hand-painted sugar cookies, lemon cookies and brownies at Aunt Cappy’s Pralines and Confections. Martin handed out samples of her pralines, which are made, she said, with buttermilk to cut the sugariness.
New this year is a covered area with tables and chairs for visitors to sit and enjoy coffee or other beverage and baked goods or fruit from the vendors.
Anyone interested in becoming a Friend of the Vicksburg Farmers Market, the fee is $30 and rewards include a canvas tote bag and a free drink each week.
The market receives support from the City of Vicksburg and Vicksburg’s Main Street program.
Contact Pamela Hitchins at firstname.lastname@example.org