With the market’s July 3 opening coinciding with the arrival of locally grown produce, vendor participation is expected to be healthy.
Jamie Rice, president of the RISE Erwin professional group that coordinates the market, is encouraged.
Rice said Friday the market has received more inquiries from area farmers in the past two weeks than it has in the past two years.
The market averaged between 10 and 15 vendors in its first two seasons, compared to more than 20 expected to be set up on the Unicoi County Courthouse parking lot on Tuesday, she said.
In addition to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, the market offers a variety of locally sourced food products and handmade crafts, a weekly rotation of food truck vendors and fun, outdoor fitness activities for the entire family.
Erwin’s YMCA will lead free outdoor yoga sessions in conjunction with this market every Tuesday in The Gathering Place Park, located just across the street from the courthouse, and the market’s popular summer evening bike rides through downtown will start Tuesday night, July 10.
To help keep everyone safe on the road, Erwin Police Officer Todd Wilcox will review safety rules and inspect bikes and helmets from 9-10 a.m., Saturday, July 7, in front of the courthouse, and will repeat the instruction session again in August and September.
This week Apple Valley Pony Parties will bring a petting zoo to help get the market started.
Rice said RISE Erwin is especially pleased to announce that for the first time this year the market’s vendors are authorized to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) payments to improve access to fresh, locally grown produce for low-income shoppers.
Most of all, Rice said, RISE Erwin is pleased to see the return of the fellowship and camaraderie the market brings downtown.
“It’s a reunion every week,” she said. “People get to visit with friends and slow down a minute.”
Market hours are 5-8 p.m. Anyone in need of more information or vendor applications may call Rice at 423-743-6231 or 423-220-7624.
Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.