HER Around Town

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story by Re­beca Rec­tor, pho­tog­ra­phy by Grace Brown, file pho­tos

Whether look­ing for a place to set­tle down or sim­ply mak­ing a de­ci­sion on what des­ti­na­tion to ex­plore next, the city of Hot Springs of­fers a slew of lo­cal fa­vorites and must-sees, all of which re­flect the hard work that goes into what gave this area the small-town charm it’s known for.

Res­i­dents and tourists alike look for a va­ri­ety of en­ter­tain­ment and recre­ational in­ter­ests to revel in as they de­cide upon a des­ti­na­tion, what­ever their pur­pose for vis­it­ing en­tails. Be that as it may, folks tend to be at­tracted to largescale events and in­ter­ests to ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­plore, as well.

How­ever, what many may not re­al­ize is that Hot Springs of­fers both ends of the spec­trum. From Oak­lawn Racing Casino Re­sort to the lo­cal, year-round his­toric down­town Hot Springs Farm­ers & Ar­ti­sans Mar­ket, Hot Springs of­fers a wide range of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and en­ter­tain­ment that will meet ev­ery­one’s needs.

In the case of the farm­ers mar­ket, many hours of hard work and ded­i­ca­tion goes into mak­ing this unique non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion worth­while — and worth the time.

With Pres­i­dent Mered­ith Finn at the helm, the mar­ket has evolved into what is known as a weekly guar­an­tee of healthy, nat­u­ral goods and pro­duce, ar­ti­san crafts and, on oc­ca­sion, lo­cally pro­vided en­ter­tain­ment. Started by a group of farm­ers who would come to­gether to pur­chase seed and grain at

what was known as the “seed lot” — lo­cated near the his­toric Wil­liam Broth­ers Feed and Rail­road Freight House — the be­gin­ning stages of the mar­ket ebbed and flowed on its own hinge through­out the ’70s and ’80s.

In 2009, the beau­ti­ful pav­il­ion that now rests near the same lo­ca­tion the mar­ket was orig­i­nally based, was con­structed. Thanks to the ded­i­ca­tion and sup­port of vol­un­teers and loyal ven­dors, the pav­il­ion was ded­i­cated to the lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket in 2010. Around this time, the mar­ket ex­panded its sum­mer roots and de­vel­oped into a year-round ven­ture — in other words, a win­ter mar­ket and main-sea­son (sum­mer) mar­ket were now read­ily avail­able to the pub­lic.

“The farm­ers mar­ket is just an amaz­ing crown jewel in Hot Springs and I wish more peo­ple knew about it,” said Finn. “Peo­ple come from all over the re­gion to look at our pav­il­ion to copy it for their farm­ers mar­ket. It’s beau­ti­fully land­scaped and the city main­tains it; it’s just gor­geous.”

As time has passed and the mar­ket has grown, a di­verse group of ven­dors has taken in­ter­est and be­gan con­tribut­ing to the mar­ket’s suc­cess with myr­iad unique goods, in­clud­ing one-of-a-kind orig­i­nal cloth­ing, soaps, lo­tions, plants, aloe, jew­elry, belts and leather­work.

The mar­ket’s new­found di­ver­sity of mer­chan­dise al­lows cus­tomers to not only be able to en­joy what the mar­ket has to of­fer dur­ing the spring and sum­mer months but dur­ing the colder months, as well, with a fo­cus on the

works of ar­ti­sans and crafters.

“What we try to do is bring in more ar­ti­sans and more crafters,” said Finn. “You get a re­ally di­verse group of peo­ple.” At any rate, an as­sort­ment of sea­sonal foods and pro­duce are still avail­able dur­ing the fall and win­ter sea­sons. Finn ex­pressed the im­por­tance of the mar­ket be­ing open year-round while also not­ing that the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple don’t re­al­ize this fact.

As the mar­ket was built on the backs of hard­work­ing, in­de­pen­dent farm­ers, plans of reach­ing the sur­round­ing younger de­mo­graphic of which whom carry the same pas­sions for this type of work and life­style have been put into place. The youth mar­ket is an ad­di­tional branch the or­ga­ni­za­tion has im­ple­mented in hopes of reach­ing this goal. Finn said the youth mar­ket was orig­i­nally only open for busi­ness on the last Satur­day of each month, but to ac­com­mo­date the younger gen­er­a­tion’s cre­ativ­ity and need for op­por­tu­nity, this sec­tion of the mar­ket is now avail­able ev­ery Satur­day.

A big part of what draws reg­u­lar cus­tomers to the lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket is the guar­an­tee of nat­u­ral, freshly made goods, as well as the en­joy­ment and peace it brings one in know­ing ex­actly where their prod­ucts came from. “It’s great to be able to go to a farm­ers mar­ket and buy the stuff to make a salad and be able to shake the man’s hand who grew the in­gre­di­ents for that salad,” said Finn. “That’s the type of re­la­tion­ships that grow down there.”

The or­ga­ni­za­tion be­longs to the com­mu­nity and is avail­able to any­one that wishes to con­trib­ute or be a part. Finn de­scribed the lead­er­ship’s goal to con­tinue build­ing and im­prov­ing the mar­ket as a whole, along­side a solid cus­tomer base which will en­sure an ex­cit­ing fu­ture for years to come.

“What drives me to make the mar­ket bet­ter is that peo­ple de­pend on this mar­ket for their liveli­hood and for their so­cial out­let,” said Finn. “This is a huge in­ter­ac­tion of life down there and I want it to be more com­fort­able and more hos­pitable for every­body around.” Finn and her staff have a vi­sion to one day ex­pand the farm­ers mar­ket’s pav­il­ion in or­der to ac­com­mo­date pa­trons in mak­ing each and ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence a com­fort­able and mem­o­rable one.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.