April 9, 2013 9:56:40 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Starkville Community Market organizers are preparing to launch the annual community event for the first time under Starkville Main Street Association's control.
The market opens May 4 at the intersection of Lampkin and Jackson streets, and will run 7:30-10:30 a.m. on Saturdays throughout the summer.
SMSA took control of Starkville Community Market in October, a move which placed leadership and oversight with the Greater Starkville Development wing. SMSA officials pledged to fund advertising and organizational needs when it made the move. Jennifer Prather, a former Mississippi State University events planner, was hired as SCM market manager in December.
Since February, SMSA formed a market advisory board consisting of local residents with local agricultural and business ties.
Organizers have streamlined vendor requirements for local producers who are interested in selling produce and other foods.
SCM guidelines and vendor applications are located on its website at visit.starkville.org/market. Vendor fees are $10 per week or $135 for the whole summer season.
Market goods are divided into four categories dependent on the type and the ability to spread food-borne illness. All participating vendors must comply with the Mississippi Department of Health food handling procedures. Non-compliance will result in the removal of a vendor.
Arts and crafts vendors are approved in a juried fashion prior to market dates.
"We're looking to feature producers within a 150-mile radius, and we'll work with any potential vendors to help them understand the regulations and how to comply," Prather said. "Even those products with strict regulations, we'll help the public understand how those work and how to comply."
Prather also said SCM organizers and board members could consider running a condensed, mid-week market later in the year. Such an event could run during a weekday's later hours and attract shoppers who aren't available to attend the early Saturday morning market, she said.
"We really want to get the market open and work out the kinks first. Based upon supply and demand, I'd love to be able to implement a mid-week market - a condensed version. It definitely depends on what the suppliers can bring to support it," she said. "It's something we're considering now and trying to figure out how best it would work. We've already received interest from both vendors and shoppers for a mid-week event."
Prather is also organizing featured market displays and events for this season, including culinary demonstrations, children's activities and potting and gardening seminars. Those events will be announced as they're confirmed, and SMSA will post upcoming schedules on its blog, she said.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch