June 14, 2013 12:53:37 PM
While Starkville Community Market's inaugural season under local Main Street association control has attracted numerous customers over six events, market manager Jennifer Prather is hopeful increased interest will translate into another area: volunteer service.
Prather said more local volunteers are needed to help support the demands of a growing community market. Staggered shifts are available to anyone interested in lending a hand, she said, and any help is appreciated.
The market, located at the intersection of Lampkin and Jackson streets, opens 7:30 a.m. each Saturday and runs through the summer.
"It's a great way to get involved with your community. We need volunteers to help with pre-market setup, children's activities and the post-market cleanup," Prather said. "It's definitely an all-hands-on-deck atmosphere with our volunteers.
Those interested in helping should contact Volunteer Starkville Director Jamey Matte at (662) 268-2865.
The market's growth could be attributed to its already-dedicated supporters and the Starkville Main Street Association's push to increase the event's visibility in the area, Prather said. SMSA took control of the market in October, and board members pledged to financially support advertising and organizational needs. Prather, in turn, was hired in December.
Since February, SMSA formed a market advisory board consisting of residents with local agricultural and business ties. Organizers also streamlined vendor requirements for farmers interested in selling produce and other foods.
Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory and Prather said last year the organization would look to expand not only the vendors and products it attracted, but also work to provide more hands-on demonstrations and entertainment.
Market organizers previously discussed opening a condensed version of the market during a mid-week day, but Prather said they were not ready to tinker with any logistical plans.
"We really feel like we've hit our stride with how the market is going now," she said.
A full listing of upcoming SCM demonstrations and events, as well as vendor applications and requirements, can be found at http://www.visit.starkville.org/market.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch