CONWAY — Blackberries, bluegrass, face painting and farm-fresh eggs will be part of the mix Saturday at the Conway Farmers Market Customer Appreciation Day.
Free activities will be held beginning at 6:30 a.m. at the market, located at 150 Amity Road.
“It’s us giving back to our customers,” said Phyllis Strack of Conway, grower and promotions chairwoman for the market.
The market, which is held Tuesdays and Saturdays, moved from downtown Conway in May 2013 to the parking lot at Antioch Baptist Church.
City officials said the parking lot in downtown Conway that the market had been using was needed during district-court proceedings.
Activities and offerings Saturday will include complimentary coffee for customers, face painting and balloons for children, as well as performances by the Shade Tree Jammers, who play gospel and folk music, Strack said.
“They have volunteered to come every Saturday and play for us; it’s a nice group,” Strack said.
Starting at 9:30 a.m., free hot dogs and lemonade will be given out.
She said the Master Gardeners organization will have a booth to hand out
information about its program, and the Conway Fire Department is scheduled to be there, barring any emergency runs.
There isn’t a special reason to hold the event Saturday, except for the hope of good weather, she said.
“Last year, we did it at the end of July, and it was a little bit hot. We want to make it where people can enjoy it out there,” Strack said.
Kami Marsh, market adviser and agriculture agent for the Faulkner County Cooperative Extension Office in Conway, said the Conway Farmers Market “is phenomenal.”
“It’s a festival feel now. Come out with your family; have a fun time,” Marsh said. “We have something planned each month as a big activity.”
The market has one food vendor every year who sells breakfast and lunch, she said.
“It’s an experience — come out and have coffee, have your breakfast, have something for lunch,” Marsh said.
Strack said the market has 29 vendors, although she said they are not always there at the same time. They sell a variety of locally grown vegetables, fruit, eggs and grass-fed beef and pork, she said, as well as crafts, such as jewelry and doll clothes.
She said an advantage of the farmers market is that customers can ask questions of the people who actually grow the food.
“Here’s the great thing about the Conway Farmers Market at Antioch: Every craft vendor, when they do a craft application, they turn in a picture of themselves making the craft,” Marsh said. “If I’m a farmer, and I put on my application I grow ABC, the board is coming out to check to see if I grow ABC, so it’s 100 percent home-grown.”
Marsh said board members from the Faulkner County Extension Service and the Conway Farmers Market share the responsibility of visiting people’s gardens or farms.
Strack said she and her husband, Gary, grow a little bit of everything — blackberries, new potatoes, green beans, peppers, squash, cucumbers and more.
“It’s the original Conway Farmers Market, although it has gone through different names. It’s been around 40-plus years,” she said. “My father-in-law (Lawrence Strack) was one of the original ones, which is how I know something about it.”
Marsh said something else she is “super excited about” is that on Tuesdays, seniors 60 and older get a 10 percent discount from any vendor.
“That’s one way we’re trying to give back to the community,” Strack said, and the Customer Appreciation Day is another one.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.