HER Around Town
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.