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.