Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sentinel Column - June 13, 2008

We celebrated our roots on Tuesday – those of our vendors, our customers and our produce. The Lee and Vang families wore their Hmong festival costumes and Kimberly Ritchie dressed in the garb of her Scottish ancestors. All of us who work or sell at the market had signs showing where we were born and where our families came from. (I had to call my brother Bill, the genealogist of the family, to learn that we trace our roots to England and France.) The Cooking for a Cause volunteers from Joplin Little Theater noted their organization’s birth date – 1939.

Ann Watrous who is a volunteer for both the Historical Society and the Genealogy Society staffed several maps for folks to pinpoint their ancestral homes. She was ably assisted by her daughter Julia Watrous Casella.

Ann reported that market visitors traced their roots to Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Central and South America, and Africa, as well as North America. Basically, we’re from everywhere! The largest numbers were from the British Isles, with England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all well represented. A surprising number of visitors knew the exact city or county from which their ancestors came.

France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Spain and France were represented. Asian roots were traced to Laos, Cambodia, Formosa, Japan, the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam. Chile and Columbia were marked, as were Guatemala and Costa Rica. A number of visitors noted Native American roots, especially in the Cherokee Nation.

Ann really enjoyed her day saying “stories of family genealogies were shared: coal miners from western France, England and Wales came to this area to work in mines in Missouri and Kansas. Two visitors had famous progenitors: Charlemagne and Miles Standish!”

Our Market Roots celebration was named Best Market Event of the Year by the state Department of Agriculture’s AgriMissouri program and the Missouri Farmers Market Association. It’s certainly a favorite among our customers and vendors.

If you happen to be at the market at 1:30 on a Tuesday in June, you will find yourself surrounded by about 100 students from Webster school. Each Tuesday we have two busloads of summer school students visiting the market. Many of the children have visited before with their families, but there is still plenty to learn (“who can say kohlrabi?” or “boc choy?”). They marvel at the size of Ka Yang’s wok, but the prizewinners for fascination are the green eggs sold by Kimberly Ritchie. Eyes also widen as Bill McLaughlin hands a snickerdoodle to each child – not because they’ve never seen a snickerdoodle before, but because Bill bakes the cookies. Most don’t expect a man to be the baker, but Bill is the chief cookie and fruit bread baker at Hazel’s Bakery.

Lunch today from Hazel’s Bakery is a customer favorite, all-you-can-eat ham and beans, plus plain or jalapeno cornbread, carrot cake and drink for $5. Jack and Lee Ann Sours play from 11 to 1.

On Saturday, the Loose Notes will play gospel and bluegrass from 9:30 to 11:30. At 11:30 the Market Jam begins. It’s a jam session for local musicians. We provide a place and free drink, they provide the tunes.

Hazel’s Bakery will serve breakfast Saturday. Ka Yang will serve Asian cuisine. Josh Orr will demonstrate rope tricks at 10:30 and the Carl Junction FFA will sell plants from their greenhouse.

On Tuesday, Exchange Club volunteers run Cooking for a Cause. They’ll be donating their profits to Healing the Family, a 501c3 counseling service. Rob Pommert will perform.

It won’t be long now till we hit the market’s high season. By the end of June (and that’s only two weeks away), we expect to have the first field tomatoes, corn and peaches. And that will take us to the busiest week of the year – the first week of July. As always, the market day will move to suit the Fourth of July. Since the Fourth comes on a Friday this year, that week we’ll have Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday markets. On Tuesday, July 1st, Cooking for a Cause will benefit Crosslines, our regional food and clothing pantry. On Thursday, July 3rd, we’ll host our mega-bake sale to benefit Crosslines. We’re looking for volunteers to staff the meal and bake sale, plus we hope folks will bake up plenty of goodies for the sale. If you would like to help, stop by the information table for details.