RUSSELLVILLE — The Pope County Farmers Market will host Veggie Fest from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Russellville Depot, 302 W. C St.
“It will be a day to celebrate fresh fruits and eating healthy,” said Tom Green of Atkins, president of the Pope County Farmers Market Board of Directors. Tammy Parker-Johns of Briggsville is vice president of the board, and Blake Byler of Morrilton is secretary.
“During June, especially, Saturday is usually our biggest day, so we try to give it a festival feel,” Green said. “Not only will we have a variety of vendors here with their produce, baked goods and other locally made items; we will have live music, cooking demos and activities for the kids.”
Green, who owns and operates Green Acres Atkins, said the farmers market opened in early April and will continue until December. The market is open from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Saturday.
“We are super exited about the farmers market this year,” said Green’s wife, the former Kami Marsh, Faulkner County Cooperative Extension Service agent for 4-H.
“For the first time, we have a logo for the farmers market, which was established in 1972 and has been in several locations. The students in the EAST lab at Dover High School designed the logo, and we are using it in our advertising, for rack cards and on Facebook and Instagram,” she said.
“We have also had help from members of Sigma Alpha Sorority at Arkansas Tech University, who take care of our information station,” she said. “They help us set up the booths and with anything else we might need. They are dedicated volunteers.
“Being at our new downtown location means more room, which brings more choices for homegrown, homemade products and produce.”
Kami Green said the Pope County Farmers Market is working in conjunction with Main Street Russellville, which has its office inside the depot building, to promote the market. The market also works with the Russellville Community Market, which operates an online farmers market at russellville.locallygrown.net and sets up its pickup location from 4-6:30 p.m. Tuesday inside the Russellville Depot.
“It’s like the perfect storm,” she said, adding that Phil Sims, chairman, and his staff at the Pope County Cooperative Extension Service have also helped with the farmers market.
Leslie Walton of Russellville, director of the Russellville Community Market, will present a food demonstration during Veggie Fest.
“I’m going to take $20, shop the farmers market about 8:30 that morning and come inside and see what I can cook,” Walton
said. “I’ll offer samples to those who are there. This will be a good way to promote locally grown and seasonal produce.”
Jami Mullen, executive director of Main Street Russellville, finds the musical entertainment for the Saturday farmers market. Mark Goatcher, superintendent of the Russellville School District, will provide the music at Veggie Fest.
“He’s got 18 million other things going on, but he’s volunteered two Saturdays of his time to entertain at the Pope County Farmers Market,” Mullen said. “He comes out with his stool and two guitars. He sings and plays guitar. … He does a wonderful job.
“We’re tying to build community … trying to get that old-timey feeling on Saturdays in downtown Russellville. The farmers market is expanding and is now located here in downtown Russellville, just where we want it to be.”
Visitors to the farmers market on June 5, which was the first Tuesday-evening market of the season, found a variety of items at the Greens’ booth, as well as at a variety of other booths.
Ric and Rhonda Holland of Holland Honey Farms at Hector offered fresh-dug garlic, bib and iceberg lettuce, yellow squash, zucchini and kale, along with honey and beeswax products and pasture-raised pork and beef items.
Lisa Alverson of Pleasant Grove Farm and Bakery in Dover was there with her homemade breads and orange crescent sweet rolls. Treylan Swaim, also of Dover, brought jams and jellies. Andi Kuroki of Russellville, who is a certified pastry chef and owner of Kuroki Bakery, was selling a variety her artisan breads and pastries. And James Mashek of London was there to support his fellow farmers; he often brings farm-fresh eggs to the market.
Mashek said 24 vendors have signed up to participate in the market.
“They are not all producing yet,” he said. “If they all come Saturday, we’ll have a pretty good bunch.”
Two other special Saturday fests are planned for the Pope County Farmers Market: Fall Fest on Oct. 28 and Winter Fest on Dec. 8.
For more information on the Pope County Farmers Market, visit the market’s Facebook page at Pope County Farmers Market.