little shade on a hot day can mean the difference between an enjoyable time and just a tolerable one. That was the sentiment heard around the new Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market pavilion Saturday morning as the organization celebrated the passing of the “dog days” of summer. However, the only dogs that could be found, were the hot dogs provided by Saturday’s market sponsor, Kentucky Legend.
The pavilion, which opened Memorial Day weekend, gave vendors a more permanent spot to sell their goods out of the direct sun during those dog days.
“It’s just gone tremendous,” said Glen Shourds, who has been president of the farmers’ market board for the past four years. “Now the vendors are part of the fixture so we don’t hear people asking, ‘Are you going to be here every week?’ it’s just expected.”
Vendors have expanded to include more than the traditional tomatoes and sweet corn, although those staples are still plentiful. Now the market features locally produced meat and dairy products, fish, baked goods and even wine.
Misty Meadow Winery sells bottles of fruit and berry wine made on their small farm, as well as honey produced there.
Don Keller of Misty Meadow said the honey is made from bees they keep on the farm. Those bees pollinate the fruit used for the wine.
“Bees are everything,” Keller said. “People don’t realize if we lose our bees, we lose a third of our food.”
The honey is a popular item at the market, and it’s about as fresh as it comes. “We extracted this last week and bottled it this week,” Keller said about the table of honey jars.
Another new vendor this year is Thomas Aquafarms. Eric Thomas, co-owner, said they sell Blue Nile tilapia, raised in Daviess County, and they plan to have saltwater shrimp and rainbow trout in the future.
“The first week we sold three times more than we expected,” Thomas said. “We have a lot of people coming back, saying it tasted great and they want more, and people who bring their friends by and say ‘this is the fish we had, you have to get some.'”
Other vendors are serving up fresh cuts of locally raised beef, pork, and chicken.
Jim Gilles of Hill View Farms Meats said they offer all the retail cuts of meat you’d find at your grocery store, and it’s all grown on their Daviess County farm. They also offer dairy products they bring in from other Kentucky Farms.
“This year has been really good,” Gilles said. “The new pavilion is amazing. It’s amazing what a market structure does.”
He said their customers have increased and the market has become more of a social, Saturday morning hangout.
“Some shade makes a huge difference,” he said.
Gilles said they’ve participated in the market since they started the business approximately five years ago. Gilles himself is about to take a bigger leadership role in the Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market, moving from president-elect to the president as Shourds is moving out of the area.
“I asked him if he was sure,” Giles said with a laugh. “We can always do things by Skype.”
Shourds is moving to Maine and hopes to pursue cheese making with his agriculture-minded 15-year-old daughter.
The market season will run until November. For more info, visit http://www.owensbororegionalfarmersmarket.org.