The Ashe County Farmers’ Market will begin its 19th year on Saturday, April 12, providing fresh foods and crafts to its visitors.
Some changes are coming to the Farmers’ Market, including expanding the aisle within the building by two feet in each direction, to allow visitors to navigate the market better. In addition, Market Manager John Smyre said more vendors will be taking part in the weekly event this year.
“We have added another meat vender, some sellers of baked goods and several new vendors in the produce end,” Smyre said. “We are tickled to death that we have a couple more produce venders that will be joining us this year.”
While produce will be a little slow to begin with, Smyre said some greenhouse vendors should have tomatoes ready to go by the start of the market.
Smyre said the Farmers Market started in 1995, and has continued to grow as each year passes. Also, the Farmers Market will continue to add more events for this season, including continuing the apple pie and tomato contests.
“We will continue having special events as the year goes on,” Smyre said. “We are looking for something a little different.”
Last year, Smyre said the Farmer’s Market and Holiday Market brought in 23,000 people to downtown West Jefferson and averaged between 550 and 600 people each week.
“We have a lot of people come from throughout the state,” he said. “The Farmers Market is a good visiting point too, so we draw a lot of that traffic in as well.”
Also, despite the heavy rains, the market brought in close to $200,000 in revenues.
“We were about the same as the year before,” Smyre said. “Even though we had a bad summer with the produce, people still came.”
Last year’s estimates also did not include the special Wednesday markets the Farmers Market starts hosting after Christmas in July weekend. The totals are estimated based on information the vendors give to the organizers.
“We do an estimate of their revenues coming in,” Smyre said. “If the vender wants to give us information on how much they sold that day, then it is fine. If they don’t want to though, then we don’t push them.”
This year, the Farmers Market will continue to be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Backstreet in West Jefferson. The market will run every Saturday from April 12 to Oct. 25. The Holiday market is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 22, 29 and Dec. 26.
Smyre said he is optimistic about the weather for the upcoming months and excitement is brewing among the local vendors and the downtown businesses.
“We appreciate the businesses downtown,” he said. “They help us as much as we like to help them. We are all good neighbors.”
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.