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By April Hall, Staff Writer
DRAKES BRANCH – Friday, May 13 marked the opening day of the new Charlotte County Farmer’s Market, centrally located in the town of Drakes Branch. “The opening day was a great success,” said Bob Jones, Charlotte County Extension Agent. “We had 287 visitors stop by the Drakes Branch pavilion, with nearly every person leaving with items purchased from five local vendors,” he continued. “Nearly every visitor we saw on Friday was a Charlotte County resident, with the exception of a few out-of-area visitors. The support from the local residents was outstanding.”
To date, the aforementioned vendors have committed to the farmer’s market, which will be open every Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. to offer a variety of locally grown produce, herbal products, fresh eggs, baked goods, handmade crafts and much more, including fresh local beef products available from 2-6 p.m. Select vendors will offer samples of their products along with recipe ideas, and in some cases, demonstrations. There will also be special “package deals” that campers or lake-goers in general will find attractive.
“We are in the beginning stages with the new farmer’s market,” said Jones. “The final regulations and vendor packages are being completed and we will be accepting additional vendors on a first come, first serve basis, as space is limited,” he continued. “We have partnered with the Town of Drakes Branch in order to bring a farmer’s market to a centrally located area in the county; the minimal set up fees of $10 per day or $30 per month will go to the town for the use of the pavilion, electricity and water.”
“We are reaching out to a variety of vendors to offer unique products,” said Jones. “On Friday, May 20, there will be a vendor scheduled to offer delicious Kettle Corn demonstrations and offer the product for sale. In addition, the following Friday we will have a local vendor offering for sale fresh pond-raised catfish and trout, and in the near future a USDA Pork Producer and a local producer of jams and jellies, will be on the schedule,” he continued.
The Farmer’s Market is scheduled to run through October, and the planners are hoping to not only offer unique products for sale but to see special events throughout the season. “I am excited about the possibilities of the market not only bringing locally grown products to the Charlotte County area, but for the great opportunity of possible special entertainment events that could come from this venture,” said Jones. “We are working on setting up a Facebook page to provide information on additional vendors and any changes or adjustments that need to be made during these early stages, and for weekly updates that become available. Anyone needing immediate general information can contact me at 434-315-4366 or the Extension Office at 434-542-5884. As with any venture such as this, things are subject to change and visitors are welcomed and encouraged to contact me or the extension office if they would like to confirm a specific vendor,” continued Jones. “We are accepting any suggestions from the community and are also working on additional parking and will have that resolved by this Friday’s auction,” he concluded.
Anyone wishing to receive information about becoming a vendor should contact Cornell Goldman at 434-534-2504.