Farmers’ Market a rousing success|[06/15/08]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2008

Locally grown produce was in abundance Saturday morning at the grand opening of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market, and local was what shoppers wanted.

“I believe in supporting local farmers whenever you can,” said Sandy Miller, a Vicksburg resident who turned up early with her grandson Slade Kingston-Miles. “I hope this is an ongoing thing.”

Miller plans to come to the market every Saturday until Sept. 13, when it will close for the season.

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The bluegrass band Rocky Springs provided music as shoppers checked out the vendors’ wares. Squash, potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and fresh-baked bread lined tables as Washington Street-based coffee shop Highway 61 sold coffee to those who needed caffeine to get their early start in the parking lot east of the Levee Street Depot.

The market, which is open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., featured 20 vendors, making it larger than the Jackson and Oxford markets, said volunteer organizer Mary Beth Lasseter. She estimated the day’s total crowd to be around 600 people.

Bill Freeman, who lives near Bovina, has been growing produce commercially since 1988. He participates in the Jackson farmers’ market as well, and plans to stick around through September.

“It’s a good deal,” he said.

The market grew out of volunteer efforts that began in February. Vicksburg Main Street and the City of Vicksburg helped support and fund the project to see the market into fruition. The Vicksburg Heritage Foundation incorporated the event into their Blues Weekend.

Nick Stuart, 16, of Cary spearheaded his family’s participation in the farmers’ market. “I just like farming and all kinds of animals,” he said. He, his father, Frank Stuart Jr., and his grandfather, Frank Stuart Sr., were selling Nick’s birdhouses, produce and guineas.

“They’re like watchdogs, when someone drives up in the driveway, they just chatter away,” said Frank Stuart Jr. about the guineas, which are native to Africa and grow about as large as a chicken.

If you goThe Vicksburg Farmers’ Market will return every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. through Sept. 13. The market will set up in the parking lot east of the Levee Street Depot on Levee and Grove Streets. For more information, the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market website is Stuarts sold three guineas right away.

“I’m just tickled to death with this turnout,” said Bill Seratt, executive director of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

He wasn’t there, however, as executive director, but as a Vicksburg citizen.

“I’m here because I live in the neighborhood and I wanted squash and tomatoes that I can trust,” Seratt said.

Sandra Brooks of Vicksburg was equally thrilled with the market.

“I love the location. I love how they’re promoting the downtown area