Cheri Tinney, chairwoman of the Downtown Elizabethton Farmers Market Association, said the market has really grown over last year.
“We averaged between 13 and 15 vendors every week,” Tinney said. “We have about 150 customers a week and our biggest weeks drew 300 to 400 customers.”
Tinney said the statistics did not tell all of the story.
“We saw a lot of repeat customers who supported us week after week.”
Tinney is newly married and her husband, Michael Howell, is just as excited about the future of the market. He said the live music has also helped draw customers.
Although the weather has been very good this year, Tinney said their partnership with First Christian Church has meant they have not had any missed days. When it rains, the church allows the market to use its gym.
“We have not missed a week. That is a big help,” Tinney said.
Howell said another reason for the growth has been the use of social media. “It has provided a large boost,” he said.
Tinney thinks the market can get bigger, and one of the keys is visibility. That means the relocation of the market to one of Elizabethton’s major highways, where it can be seen by motorists.
Arnold Greiber of Shady Valley is one of the vendors who enjoys the markets and makes Elizabethton one of his main locations, along with Bristol and Mountain City.
Greiber is a competitor and likes to attract customers with produce that others may not have, such as his zephyr squash. He also attracts customers by selling only organic produce with no pesticides or herbicides.
“It takes a lot of extra time and there is a lot of extra loss,” Greiber said, but he believes it is worth the effort
The crops he offers include tomatoes, stringless pole beans, several kinds of squash, including butternut and spaghetti squash. He also has sweet dumplings. For those shoppers unfamiliar with a new variety, Greiber is quick to offer a free page of recipes featuring that item.
It is clear that Greiber enjoys hauling his produce over Cross Mountain and will be back to whatever location Tinney may think would be a good location for next year.