Oconee Farmers Market will have a soft launch of its 14th season in front of the Courthouse in Watkinsville on April 1 and a Grand Opening on April 22.
The soft launch is to accommodate vendors who planted with the traditional first Saturday in April opening date in mind.
Spring Break for Oconee County schools is the first week of April, and Easter is April 16, making the April 22 date the appropriate one for the Grand Opening, according to Farmers Market Board President Annie Kennedy.
Kennedy announced the two dates to a meeting of Market vendors on Feb. 23 at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville.
Eleven vendors plus the six members of the Market Board of Directors, most of whom are vendors, attended.
New Market Manager
Cindy Pritchard, who took over as market manager with the launch of the 2012 season, stepped down from that position last month.
|Kennedy, Center, Talking With Vendor|
Pritchard became executive director of the Keep Oconee County Clean and Beautiful Commission last September.
Prior to Pritchard’s assuming the role of market manager, the position was passed around among vendors each week.
Curtis Yaun, who sells plants as a vendor at the market and is a member of the Market Board of Directors, will step in to replace Pritchard until someone is hired to handle the responsibilities.
“We are in a kind of a rebuild mode this year,” Eric Pope, vice president of the Market Board of Directors, said at the vendor meeting at the library.
Pope said the Market will miss Pritchard but will launch with new excitement.
Among planned events are library activities for children and cooking demonstrations.
“We want the Farmers Market to be the place where people come to gather,” Board President Kennedy told the vendors.
This year, Third Street on the side of the Courthouse will not be blocked, providing customers better access to the parking lot behind the Courthouse.
The Board is working to get new vendors and others to become regulars at the market, which runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday through the end of November.
Poor growing seasons and competition from other markets in the area have resulted in fewer vendors in recent years.
The Market is open to local vendors who grow, make or blend the products they sell.
In addition, arrangements are being made to have volunteers from the Oconee County Animal Shelter bring pets available for adoption to the market, for ESP to have a fund-raising booth, and for Friends of the Oconee County Library to have a booth selling used books as part of its fund raising efforts.
The Oconee Enterprise will have a representative at the market to generate story ideas and to do interviews for the paper.
The Market is a nonprofit organization and is supported entirely by the contributions of vendors, with each vendor paying 5 percent of sales or a $10 set fee each week, whichever is higher.
I am the customer representative on the six-member Board of Directors.