Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - December 30, 2016

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and we are looking forward to celebrating by bringing the freshest, best foods available to our dear customers. If you grew up in the south, you are already planning to enjoy black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. It’s a good luck tradition that may date all the way to the civil war. Stewart’s Bakery will make it easy for you with 16 oz containers of peas ready to warm up along with cornbread, which symbolizes gold when eaten on New Year’s Day. Pick some up for $5 a container. And to complete the tradition, pick up some greens to steam or sauté. Greens symbolize paper money which would come in handy in 2017. While fun traditions for us now, these symbols rooted in the past have the added benefit of being healthy additions to your diet.

We should have lots of healthy choices at the market tomorrow with tables loaded with fresh local produce. There will, of course, also be baked goods, pork, farm fresh eggs, frozen tamales, seasoned salts, honey, jams & jellies, kettle corn and flavored popcorn, pecans, pecan brittle and peanut brittle. We expect Lance with his doggie treats, goat milk soap, and glass and metal art and jewelry.

Breakfast Saturday is French toast with sausage and coffee or juice for $5. The Pommerts will take the market stage. Now that the Christkindlmarket is over, we have room for our table games – chess, checkers and dominoes. Bring a friend or the grandkids and enjoy the music while you play a friendly game.

As we wrap up 2016 I want to finish the thoughts I started two weeks ago about the people who make a difference at the market. Many of those people you see frequently at the market like our volunteers who staff the information table, help with set up and take down and a myriad of other tasks – Janet, Karen, Donna, Dan, Mary (right), Marilyn and Sonoma. (We’d love to add your name to the list!)  

Others you might not have noticed, like our volunteers who helped with the Kids Free Meal who are far too numerous to list. I think there were over 50!  But I should at least acknowledge our younger volunteers Hunter, Parker and Braxton (below with volunteer Janis) who put in many hours throughout the summer. Many master gardeners helped with the kids garden but Dale(pictured below with kindergartners) and Ron put in the most time. 

The city has been key to the market’s success. The city council and city staff have been so supportive that, frankly, we are the envy of many markets in the state. Just the most recent example is the paving done at the market and the parking lot waiting to be finished in the spring. And we must not forget the kitchen in which the city invested expertise, labor and funds. The kitchen and the parking were very long term goals for the market. To have them both completed in a single year because of city support just takes our breath away!

The Parks Department is an on-going partner in the market’s success. Director Tom Reeder is mindful of the market’s needs, often taking care of something before we even ask – like this fall when the park crew put in place the sidewalls on the pavilion so they were ready to be dropped when weather turned cold.

We would be remiss if we did not acknow-
ledge the support given the market by the Missouri Arts Council who helps fund our live music at the market. With almost 100 live performances every year, the music budget is among our most costly even though we pay a pittance to our excellent musicians. Without MAC support we would be unable to bring kid-friendly live music to our community. (below - The Pommerts play in comfort now in the winter but they braved some pretty cold temperatures in past years before our heaters were up to the weather.)

We also owe a debt of gratitude to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture for their support of our farmer training. The results of that support are displayed every week in the abundant high quality produce for sale at the market. The Free Kids Meal is also funded by the USDA. We are very cognoscente that the funding really comes from the taxpayers of the country. We try to give high value for every grant dollar we receive. The year-round market is one example of something that simply would not have happened without grant support. The benefits of the winter market to the community, the support of local farmers and small businesses, the sales tax generated are some of the value returned for those grant dollars.

We should also acknowledge the donatiions of individuals, foundations and companies that support many aspects of the market ranging from the kitchen to the kids meal and the kids garden to the food stamp matching program and more. The market is a 501c3 non-profit so all donations are tax-deductible. If you’d like to support something at the market, just let us know.

For the first time in many years, the market had employees in 2016 and they are a large part of our success from manager, David (left), to head free kids meal cook Syerra and her able helpers Jo, Theresa and KB. We should also mention Cloud’s Meats in Carthage who provided buying services and loaned us equipment without charge for the free kids meals. 

I'll have a few more to add next week, but I am going to end with perhaps the two most important groups of folks who make the market a success – our customers and our vendors. We are blessed with the best of both and we look forward to another year of great blessings!  See you Saturday.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 12/23/16

Tomorrow is our last Christmas market of the year.  We're always open on Christmas Eve (unless it falls on a Sunday) but this year it falls on our regular Saturday morning market.  I think you will find it anything but regular though with eleven farms bringing in fresh local produce for your Christmas feasts and two pork ranchers on hand.  Both Harvest Hill and Madewell Pork will have their wide varieity of pork cuts and specialty sasuages.  I don't know about your son-in-law but mine thinks bacon from the market is the best of gifts. 

Other gifts you’ll find at the market – stocking stuffers like seasoned salts or honey from Cook’s Berry Junction, or jams, jellies, pecans, pecan or peanut brittle from Fair Haven. Bethany Kiele’s gluten-free, allergy-friendly and good-for-you crackers would also fit nicely into a stocking. Kettle corn or flavored popcorn from Howard at King’s Kettle Corn is always welcome at my house.  And how about a mini-cooler full of delicious frozen tacos?  
Our bakers are ready to bake to order for gifts or for your table. Call Linda with Stewart’s Bakery at 417 621-8455 (Linda’s been making some lovely cookie trays and her fudge is delicious), the Brubacker’s with Harmony Hill at 417 396-6373 or for gluten-free and allergy-friendly baked goods, call Courtney of LPHJ Kitchen at 620 762-1315.  
Tomorrow will be our last Christkindlmarket of the season. It, of course, will also be filled with gifts – and since many of these holiday vendors will not be back for months you may want to stock up for yourself as well. All handcrafted – soaps, chocolates, glass and metal art and jewelry and upcycled knitwear (that means sweaters that have been recrafted into wonderful hats and scarves). Sprout Faster will have their bagged worm-casting compost in a variety of sizes. What a nice gift for the gardeners in your life who are even now anticipating those seed catalogs. 

And not to toot our own horn, but an insulated market bag for $5 not only makes a nice gift in itself but also can serve as the wrapping for another gift (like some $5 market tokens or one of the books we have for sale).

The Pommerts will fill the pavilion with Christmas music tomorrow. Stewart’s Bakery will serve breakfast.

Our survey was rescheduled for tomorrow because our survey taker woke up with the flu last Saturday. Be sure to stop by and tell us what you like and what you want at the market.

The market will be open next Saturday for New Year’s Eve, and every Saturday there after unless icy roads are unsafe. We will always post on facebook if market is cancelled, but that rarely happens – I think three times in seven years.
Please do stop by the market tomorrow. You’ll find many smiles, happy greetings, remarkably good food and special gifts waiting for you.  You might want to say a special Merry Christmas to 417 Produce.  They asked us last week where they could donate over 500 heads of lettuce for Christmas. We connected them with Crosslines and the Christmas Basket programs of Central United Methodist Church, Sacred Heart and Emmanuel Baptist. Beautiful produce will grace the tables of many of our neighbors in need this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 12-16-16

We are so sorry to announce that we have been informed that the trolley will not be running in the morning. The next time it will run at the market will be the first Saturday in January. The trolley will still be decorated because it is still Christmastide but we will not be reading the book because it's all about Santa. We will honor tickets on the January runs but expect there will be plenty of room for anyone else.

All other activities of the market, including Mr. and Mrs. Claus, will still happen tomorrow.

Now to the column.

I prepare to leave for Colorado to spend the holidays with my children and their families, as we prepare to wrap up the holiday markets and begin the Winter Markets in January, it seems appropriate to reflect on those who have blessed us during this busy season.

Let’s start with this newspaper. Did you see the spectacular photos of the Polar Bear Express night rides in last week’s paper?  How the Sentinel photographer manages to capture the essence of the experience – in the dark! – is beyond me. Luckily it isn’t beyond Bob Foos. He has given us exceptional community stories and photos for decades. So much so that he is in the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. My college degree is in journalism and as a student of the field I can tell you we are very, very fortunate to have Bob and the Sentinel here in Webb City.

So I urge you to give yourself and others a gift this Christmas that will keep giving all year, a gift that will also support our community, a subscription to the Sentinel. 

Does a tree make a sound when it falls in the woods if no one is there to hear it?  Of course it does, but the sound is lost to history. Do our daily lives and special events remain solidly in the community memory without a newspaper to document it?  No, it does not. The Sentinel gives us a record of our community in a way that nothing else does. And, perhaps more importantly, it connects us as a community. Let’s keep it strong and healthy by subscribing. Send name and address along with a check for $32.39 to PO Box 150 in Webb City (that’s the Jasper County delivery rate, call for rates for other locations).

And if we’re thinking of blessings, let’s think about those streetcar volunteers!  This group of dedicated people (who happen to all be men right now) take many days from their busiest time of year to share the trolley with us. During December they make Polar Bear Express runs for school children, organizations and the general public almost constantly. Every Saturday morning they operate for the market, on Friday and Saturday evenings they put in about 6 hours for the parks department. During the week they have both days and evenings tied up. I think it’s safe to say they have made well over 125 rounds through the park this Christmas season. 

Why do Clyde (T-Bird) Thornbrugh, Jim Dawson, Lee and Frank Englert, Don Wynne, Jerry Fisher and Kavan Stull put in that kind of volunteer time?  (That's Jerry and Jim driving the trolley while volunteer Cathy Hall reads the Polar Express.  They are paying close attention to Cathy because when she reads the part where the train lets out a loud blast on its whistle, the trolley "motorman" does the same.  Jim gets the prize for being our best whistle blower - he pulls loud and long!) Jerry says they love seeing the kids light up on the trolley and hearing adults from out of town comment that they didn’t know about the streetcar and how special it is. He also said they get inspiration from the memory of Fritz Rogers who organized the rescue and renovation of the trolley and himself spent countless hours on it. In another 20 years Fritz’s story and the trolley’s might have been lost but it is secure because both have been featured in many issues of the Webb City Sentinel over the years. Hmmmmm.

We’re in for another wonderful market tomorrow. Santa will be there with Mrs. Claus. Our Santa specializes in pet photos, though of course, he is equally at ease with children.

The Polar Bear Express is running at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour during the market. Most of the tickets have been reserved but we always hold some back for the day of so check by the depot for a free ticket. 

Red Bridge is playing Christmas tomorrow. This most excellent blue grass and gospel band will put on a great show. Linda Stewart will serve breakfast.

We’ll have ten farmers in the pavilion plus all the other wonderful food and gift vendors that make the market special at this time of year. The pavilion will be full, warm and festive. Just two more holiday markets – yes, we’re open 9 to noon on Christmas Eve, then we start the Winter Markets on New Year’s Eve.

We’ll have a dot survey set up near the information table tomorrow. We’re gathering information on how folks learn of the winter market, what they like about it and how best to let more folks know that we’re open year round. Participants will receive a free market pen! (until we run out)  Just one more reason to make sure you get to the market tomorrow.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Webb City Sentinel market column - 12-9-16

It’s finally winter. We are going to be so thankful for our heaters and sidings tomorrow. A nip in the air will put you in a holiday mood and the festivities inside the pavilion will meet your holiday expectations.

Webb City’s favorite Santa will be seated inside by the tree. If you grew up in Webb City in the last forty years, you have sat on our Santa’s knee and waved to him as he rode atop the fire engine in the parade. Mrs. Claus will be on hand as well.

The Pommerts will play Christmas music. Stewart’s Bakery will serve breakfast:  sausage, eggs, biscuit and gravy, and hash brown casserole for $5 or a giant cinnamon roll for $3. Both meals include coffee or juice.

The Polar Bear Express will run 10 minutes and 40 minutes after the hour from 9:10 to 11:40. Most seats are reserved now but we had a lot of no-shows last week so stop by the depot west of the market and see if you can catch a ride. The trolley is all decked out with holiday tinsel and balls. Cathy Hall will read the Polar Express while the trolley makes its 15 minute round through the park. It’s free and we hope it will be a holiday tradition for many years to come.

We’re expecting 11 farms tomorrow with everything from many kinds of lettuce, greens and microgreens, to tomatoes (Owen Detweiler said he would have a LOT of tomatoes), to hot and sweet peppers, to pecans and more. All our bakers are expected including our gluten free bakers. 

Looking for stocking stuffers?  How about locally made jams and jellies, chocolates and brittle, freshly roasted coffee beans, raw food bars, soaps, and jewelry?  We’ll have sewn goods, upcycled knits, all sorts of fine turned wood, glass art. Do you have a gardener in the family – give them a bag of Sprout Faster’s excellent worm castings. You’ll find all that and more in the Christkindlmarket. You find special gifts, both large and small, but only for three more Saturdays. 

Thanks to our excellent farmers, we have summer produce in the winter, but we also have the traditional winter crops like sweet potatoes and acorn squash. Our friend Liz Graznak of Happy Hollow Farm in central Missouri shared a tasty recipe printed below. Liz is an exceptional farmer and one of the presenters at our Midwest Winter Production Conference set for February 13 and 14. In addition, to Liz we have three nationally know winter producers sharing their expertise with us. It’s going to be a master class for experienced winter growers and a top-notch introduction for novices. The conference is one of the reason we have such a bountiful winter market. Our growers have learned from the best for five years now.

They’ll have fresh local produce at the market. Now we just need lots of customers to take it home and enjoy it. Who’s in?

Here’s that recipe:

Stuffed Acorn Winter Squash
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
(each squash makes 2 servings)

Cut in half and remove seeds from as many squash as required. Place cut sides up on a baking sheet or dish. Brush the cut side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20 minutes.

While squash are pre-baking, in a skillet sauté until just brown, 2 heads garlic, 1 large onion, 1/2 lb. bacon (each chopped into small pieces). Add 1 bunch chopped kale or Swiss chard (leaves & stems), 2 cored & chopped apples (leave peals on). Add a generous helping of nuts of your choice (we like walnuts). Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Sauté until apples are barely soft & greens just wilted. Remove squash from oven and place a healthy amount of the sautéed mixture into the cavity of each winter squash. Sprinkle the top of each squash with blue or feta cheese from Terrell Creek Farm. Return to oven and continue baking until squash are soft when poked with a fork. Serve warm in the “shell”.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Webb City Sentinel column - 12-2-16


The market is abuzz with excitement!  We have celebrity guests on Saturday and special activities. In the pavilion, Elsa and Anna will be on hand to pose so bring your camera!  These royal sisters are real sisters out of costume – Brooke and Bethany Montgomery – and make perfect princesses.

Just across the aisle we’ll have a quartet of carolers from MSSU. And over at the depot west of the market, the Polar Bear Express will be pulling out 10 and 40 minutes past the hour. 

Stewart’s Bakery is serving breakfast – scrambled eggs, biscuit and gravy, two sausage patties, and hash brown casserole for $5 or a giant cinnamon roll for $3. Both include coffee or orange juice.
Two of our farmers have such bumper crops of lettuce that they are running a sale tomorrow. Braker Berry Farm will have green butterhead, red butterhead and green leaf lettuce on sale for $2 a head. 417 Produce will have bibb and butter lettuce on sale – buy 2 and get 1 free or buy 3 and get 2 free. Because it’s just harvested this lettuce typically lasts a week if properly refrigerated. Make a habit of enjoying a healthy green salad every day and you might not even have to make that annual New Year’s resolution in January! 

We’ll have a full pavilion tomorrow. The Troyers are back so that means Lance will have dog biscuits for sale – and his dad Hector will have beautiful fresh produce.

Cook’s Berry Junction will give out tastes of their honey butter and flavored honeys tomorrow.

Girl Scout Troop 70391 will sell their handmade craft gifts. This is actually a learning experience for the girls in entrepreneurship but I’m told their work is charming. Mende Staggs of Apple Road Farm returns to the market with pralines. Mende is teaching a class in the kitchen on making old-fashioned cream candies dipped in chocolate at 2 pm tomorrow in the market kitchen. Call Mende at 417 529-5715 to register and get a list of ingredients to bring. The class is $30 per person. 

For an article about the Christkindlmarket in the Globe last week I was asked, “when did you first think of this?”  I answered that I’d been daydreaming about more Christmas activities in Webb City for decades. And yes, Jiminy Cricket, dreams do come true!  

The Polar Bear Express is back after being shut down for three years by park construction. This event which began in 2009 will run in three different modes this month. On the mornings of December 3, 10 and 17, it runs in conjunction with the market. The 15 – 20 minute ride through the park is accompanied by a reading of the book The Polar Express. The library provides a book for each seat so readers can follow along. Tomorrow I get to read for the first rounds, then extraordinary educator Ann Foos takes over for the last three rounds.  (If you would like to be a reader, just give me a call at 417 483-8139. To be a streetcar volunteer, call Jerry at 417 850-1721.)  The tickets are free. Day of tickets are available at the depot (until we run out). Advanced tickets are at the market information table in the pavilion.

The night-time version of the Polar Bear Express is operated by the parks department and it features a light show as it goes through the park on Friday and Saturday evenings through December 17. Tickets are $1 and are available at city hall until sold out. 

On weekdays the Express is busy with school fields trips. The first and second graders of Carterville, Webster, the Truman schools will be riding the trolley and reading the books. 

The Chamber of Commerce hosts Cookies and Cocoa with Santa next Saturday at 2 pm at the Route 66 Event Center. Tickets are $5 per child. Since there are only 50 tickets this event may already be sold out. Check with the Chamber. 

The Chamber is also the place to get tickets for the Christmas double feature at the Route 66 Movie Theater – A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The movie starts at 6 pm on Tuesday, December 13, and tickets are $5 each. The chamber number is 417-673-1154.

The Webb City Christmas Parade begins at 6:30 pm on December 14th.

And the Christkindlmarket is open every Saturday from 9 to noon through Christmas Eve. Yes, I think Webb City has added just a few Christmas activities since I daydreamed about it twenty years ago. Come join the festivities.  (above - and guess who's coming NEXT Saturday?!)