YOUTH DAYS AT THE MARKET
Showcasing kids' talents
May 2 launches the beginning of the Hot Springs Farmers & Artisans Market's main season and, the last Saturday of each month, young members of the community can also provide their crafts and products for sale.
The youth market allows kids aged 8-18 to let their creativity and entrepreneur skills loose, all while earning a bit of cash. Elaine Nesmith, a member of the Farmers Market Board, said youth days are the last Saturday of each month of the main season from May to October, and also include music performances, storytelling and other kid-centered activities. Last year the market hosted close to 20 youth vendors and Nesmith hopes to see that number grow.
Clay Taylor, 15, and Isabell Taylor, 13, joined the youth portion of the market last year when it first began. Isabell sews recycled burlap and fabric bags, and Clay creates copper wire earrings.
“I have a lot of tools,” Clay said. “I learned from a friend in New Orleans who makes and sells these.”
Grace and Anna Cole, both 14, also joined the market last year. Grace sells origami earrings and Anna makes beaded bracelets. The four teenagers agree the experience has been fun and they all intend to come back for the 2015 season, this time with more knowledge on what to expect.
Isabell said the first booth she sat up was a little messy and cluttered because she took all the products she could think of. Yet, her second and third booths became more streamlined over the season.
Anna said this year she thought they would all do much better.
“We've figured out what sells best and what people like to buy, and what kind of competition there is,” Anna said. “I know what better to sell this year, or how to sell it.”
Aside from the Taylors' and Coles' crafts, past youth market vendors have brought produce, baked goods, flowers, herbs, garden art and fresh lemonade. Ryan Johnston, president of the Farmers Market Board, said his 8-year-old son creates fairy houses for the upcoming season and made jam and jelly from berries that other vendors sold at the market last year. Johnston became involved with the market after first volunteering and working his way onto the board. He said the youth market was a way to bring in the next generation of vendors.
“It's been a great family activity for our family,” Johnston said.
Nesmith said the youth market began when Donna Dunnahoe with the Fine Arts Center wanted to explore aiming a farmers market to kids. From other entrepreneurial activities with youth, Nesmith could see the connection immediately and began researching across the country to see what others were doing for youth markets.
“There's not a lot of them out there,” she said. “Some of them have stopped what they were doing because of sensitivity among the adult vendors.”
Luckily, Nesmith said that hasn't been the issue in Hot Springs between the adult and youth vendors.
“They're great with the kids being there,” she added.
More information and vendor applications can be found at www.hotspringsfarmersmarket.com.