July 29, 2013 9:26:50 AM
Starkville Community Market will stay open through August due to produce availability and increased consumer demand, Greater Starkville Development Partnership Special Events and Projects Coordinator Jennifer Prather confirmed Sunday.
The market, which usually concludes at the end of July, will remain open due to late-season produce growth. Prather, who also serves as the market's manager, said weather delayed this year's growing season.
"We weren't even at full speed with the market until mid-June in terms of the variety of produce," she said. "This move will allow us to sustain a supply through the end of August."
SCM could continue operating after August, she said, with fewer entertainment events, shortened hours or scheduled weekday dates. Such an extension would fit into the GSDP's vision of sustaining a year-round farmer's market.
Entertainment, demonstrations and overall promotions are expected to slow as the market opens past its planned operating window.
"If farmers still have produce, we will offer them some sort of venue to sell to the community," she said. "It's a service not only to the vendors in their small-business capacity, but also our consumers."
This year marked the first time that the SCM operated under the Partnership's umbrella. Starkville Main Street Association, a sub-group of the GSDP, took over leadership, oversight and promotions for the market in November, named members to an oversight board for the event in February and opened the weekly bazaar on May 4.
Partnership officials say they've observed an increased amount in vendors and consumers this year in comparison to previous SCM seasons.
"A lot of vendors tell me the worst day for them this year has been better than their best day from last year. This past Saturday, for example, it was cloudy and looked like it was going to rain, but the weather didn't keep our vendors from selling out like they've routinely done this year," she said. "We've been very pleased to see the community's support grow. That plays into the trend of our community wanting to buy local and buy directly from local growers."
Volunteer support also grew this year as more local residents spent their time assisting with the market's setup and take down, she said. Those interested in helping at SCM should contact Volunteer Starkville Director Jamey Matte at (662) 268-2865.
"(Increased volunteer numbers are) a testimony to the market's impact in the community," Prather said.
A full listing of upcoming demonstrations and events, as well as vendor applications and requirements, can be found at http://www.visit.starkville.org/market. The market, located at the intersection of Lampkin and Jackson streets, opens 7:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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