Friday, October 23, 2015

Webb City Sentinel market column - 10/23/15

I’m back and it’s a little disorienting. I wasn’t gone that long, just 5 weeks. It was summer when I left and it’s full blown fall now and this coming week ends the regular season at the market and we begin the winter market. Things are moving way too fast. (It doesn’t help that I spent those five weeks enjoying a tropical Australian spring so basically I’m experiencing a full year in 6 weeks. Ah, life in the fast lane.)
(All photos are from this week.)

Next week is our last Tuesday market of the year so if you love the evening market, it will be your last chance to enjoy it until April.
Tuesday has been the market step-child for years with much lower sales than we saw on either of the other two market days. We tried all sorts of ideas to improve sales - special activities, sampling (remember Tasty Tuesdays?), changing hours, extra publicity. Finally this year, we found the magic combination. The vendors decided to change the hours from 4 to 6 to 4 to 7. (That being said, we’ll only be open from 4 to 6 this Tuesday because it’s getting so dark so early. It’s not fun packing up the market in the pitch black.)
The longer hours made a lot more sense for serving meals and the vendors thought three hours would be more convenient for customers than two.
This year, since we received some funding for food stamp matching, we decided to do that program on Tuesdays. That allowed us to learn the system on a quieter day and draw a few more customers as well. We were not sure how long the funding would last so doing it one day a week rather than three gave us some feel for numbers. By August we were confident we’d have funding for the full year, especially since we had joined a research project that dramatically expanded our funding, so we expanded to all three market days.
Our wonderful nutrition educators from Extension asked if they could do their cooking demonstrations on Tuesdays. It meant they had to put in after work hours but since their mission is in part to educate low income people on how to incorporate more fresh local produce into their diets, it made a very good fit with the food stamp match.
And then we started the free kids lunch and, wow! Tuesdays had arrived.
Next year we’ll need to think about Fridays, which seriously slumped this year. I wonder how our customers would feel about us going to just Tuesday and Saturday or to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday? The vendors and the board have not discussed a change, but we always welcome customer input. Let us know what you think. And if you have ideas to perk up Fridays, let us know that too.
Tomorrow we have two favorites:
The Mayfields are playing. We expect them as a duet, but sometimes there are more and they magically turn into Red Bridge Trio. Whatever configuration appears you can expect lots of high energy bluegrass and gospel.
Cooking for a Cause benefits our regional food pantry, Crosslines. Breakfast will be cooked to order pancakes, grilled ham and farm fresh eggs. Both music and meal run from 9 to 11. The market is open till noon on Saturdays.
Speaking of eggs, we are finally getting a good supply. Those hens apparently love fall and we’re seeing over 100 dozen at each market. Enjoy them while the hens are happy.
The Radiology Club from MSSU will have a bake sale on Saturday (and yes, they will be baking in the traditional manner, not zapping the baked goods).

Jim Oxley will be at the market Saturday with his lovely hand-made dresses for little girls.
On Tuesday, the Pommerts will play and Carmine’s will bake artisan pizzas to order. Jordan Nichols, who is a dietician with Mercy Clinic Endocrinology, will demonstrate and share samples of Carrot Apple Harvest Salad. Jordan specializes in recipes for diabetics but I think we’ll all enjoy this regardless of our dietary restrictions.

We’ll have lots of fresh local produce, so come celebrate our last Tuesday and feast on local fresh produce this wee