Benton Farmers’ Market to return

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A shot from the opening day of the 2014 Benton Farmers' Market. The popular summer market is set to make a return this year.

Story by Amanda Simmons & Wil Sessions

Plans are underway for the second annual Benton Farmers’ Market.

The outdoor market, located at 495 Simpson Street in downtown Benton, is a community based event filled with food and craft vendors from across Louisiana, Southwest Arkansas and Northeast Texas. After a successful first year, the market committee is hoping the summer market will thrive again this year.

“We thought there was a market for this kind of event, but I am amazed at how successful it was,” Ellan Cathcart, Market Manager, said. “We ended up with excellent experienced vendors and that added to its success.”

The Benton Farmers’ Market will be open on Sunday afternoons beginning May 31st through July 26th. It was created to provide healthy, locally grown produce and to promote gardening, farming and production of agricultural goods.

“Healthy eating has become such an important thing for so many people, especially for young families,” Cathcart said. “We felt like we need to offer something that will help them live a healthier lifestyle by offering fresh, high quality produce.”

The market has also become a place for the community to gather in a safe, friendly public market setting. Cathcart said the town of Benton plans to make improvements and additions to the park that will enhance the overall experience of the park and market.  Some items considered are adding handicap paths, improving the bathroom area and expanding the playground. A timeline for these additions was not given.

Additions that will be seen this year are to the program offerings at the market. This includes more live music, vintage craft services and educational programs.

“We are listening to our customers as to what they are looking for and trying to provide that,” Cathcart said. “We are encouraging more vendors to join us this year. We’re always looking for new and different food vendors because a lot of people come from church and want lunch.”

A market vendor meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 19, at 9 a.m. inside the Fellowship Hall at First Baptist Church in Benton. This meeting is for all potential vendors – new and past vendors at the Market. Rules and Regulations, fees, application process and much more will be discussed.

Vendor applications will be available at the meetings and on the website after vendor meetings.  Fees will be collected after vendors are notified of acceptance to the Market.

Potential vendors from our local area with qualified items such as fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, honey, plants, dairy, value added products such as canned and baked goods, lunch foods (food vendors), agricultural services, artisan/gourmet foods, farm or vintage crafts are encouraged to attend this meeting.

The Benton Farmers’ Market is located in the heart of downtown Benton and is easily accessible from Highway 3, Airline Drive/Palmetto Road and Highway 162. The market will take place “rain or shine,” unless there is a major storm producing flooding and/or lightning.

For more information, visit www.bentonlafarmersmarket.com or contact the market by email at bentonlafarmersmarket@gmail.com.