The Arkansas Farmers Market Association (AFMA) hosted its annual National Farmers Market Week (NFMW) Two-Step Contest (August 6-12, 2017) in which participating Arkansas markets sent summaries of their celebrations to AFMA before the week started, and pictures of all activities immediately after the week. Entries were placed into three categories according to average number of market vendors and judged by an independent panel for their originality and customer participation.
Our 2017 winners were: Downtown Bentonville Farmers Market (30+ Vendors); Springdale Farmers Market (16-30 Vendors); and, Paragould Farmers Market (1-15 Vendors). Each winning market received $300 plus 500 re-usable market bags.
The Bentonville Market had a two-fold purpose during their NFMW celebration. They asked customers what they love most about Bentonville Market and what the market means to them. They had 10 photographers taking pictures of customers as they answered questions designed so the community could see their market through their customers and photographers’ eyes. They hope this view will encourage the Bentonville community to see the market as a place where they can come together, support one another and spend time in community!
In honor of National Farmers Market Week, the Springdale Market celebrated a “Customer Appreciation Day” on August 12. The Market had two rounds of drawings for merchandise bags (filled to the brim with nutritious produce and delicious goodies donated by the vendors), market coupons, and a grand prize. Vendors handed out tasty free samples and some of their favorite recipes. Vendors featured an array of vegetables, fruits, herbs in season, raw local honey and honey products, farm fresh eggs, frozen USDA inspected meats, plants, and a variety of handmade crafts. Additionally, Springdale Farmers Market doubled the dollar amount of SNAP and Senior coupon purchases.
The Paragould Market kicked their National Farmers Market Week off with a bang on social media plus gave away awesome prizes, played with fun facts, trivia, and recipes. They shared “flash back” photos throughout the week from their past three market seasons. In addition, they “spot-lighted” vendors to help the community get to know their local growers and producers better. Prizes included Paragould Farmers Market apparel and bags, Market Bucks; a John Deere wagon; and, more. They partnered with their local newspaper to feature articles throughout the week as well and, on market day, featured a local band, pet activities, and children’s activities. They also wanted to acknowledge their hardworking vendors, so gifts and prizes were awarded to those who participated during NFMW activities. The Market’s goal was to make it a fun morning for the whole family. With the market being located in the downtown area and many families walking to the market each Saturday, Paragould Market felt they drew everyone in with exciting sounds, smells, and activities!
Stacy Hester, AFMA Vice President and Manager of the Siloam Springs market said, “We love the opportunity to celebrate and honor our farmers during National Farmers Market Week. The celebration reminds our community of the hard work that goes into farming and how family farms are an important part of our community, providing quality food that is grown locally. Farmers markets not only provide a marketplace for the farmers to sell, but also a place for the community to gather.”
We look forward to many more markets participating in 2018!