The Evening Farmers’ Market at Pecan Park opened for the season at 3:30 p.m. last Thursday. The sky was Carolina blue, with white, fluffy clouds. A cool wind caused noses, ears and cheeks to be red. Red, white and blue: How patriotic can you get? Most of the vendors and many of the buyers wore masks, not just because of the danger of COVID, but also to keep more of their faces warm.
About a dozen vendors were on hand to show and sell some of their wares, if the breeze didn’t carry things away first. Pecan Park, for those not familiar with it, is located at 140 N. Center St. in Statesville. If there is a sign announcing that the park is there, I did not see it. The Evening Farmers’ Market may be Statesville’s best-kept secret; it can’t be seen well by traffic on Center Street.
The market opens at 3:30 p.m. and remains open “until” (usually around 7 p.m.) every Thursday from April through October. For more on the Market and the Park, which is in its 22nd season, call Madge Eggena at 704-929-0347.
I think the vendors were all good friends, and that the market is more a co-operative than a collection of individual sellers. While I was there, I saw folks selling locally-produced fresh flowers, pottery, wood craft items, bread and other bakery items, coffees, eggs and honey.
Carol Whitly, who originally came from Illinois, was there with her 2-year-old male standard poodle, Claudius Maximus. Claudius had the standard poodle grooming, and probably was colder than I was. Carol had a nice variety of jellies and pickled products for sale including pickled okra and a salsa, which, Carol explained was, very popular as it was “not too hot.” Carol has been selling her products at the Evening Farmers’ Market for three years now.
Cindy Wilkins is beginning her third year at the market. She sells a variety of hand-crafted pottery, made on her potter’s wheel and fired in her own kiln. At What A Crock! Pottery Studio in her home. Her gnomes have certain life-like qualities and personalities.
Richard Dougherty, a chef by training, displayed bakery items as well as his handsome hand-made wood crafts, most of which were cooking-related. His variety of breads looked particularly inviting. He had: pumpkin, banana with pecans, sour dough, zucchini and carrot cake. Rounding out his products, and likely to round-out the buyer, were his expresso-chocolate chip cookies and his banana-walnut-cranberry muffins. Lord help me.
Terry Bell, who lives on East Broad Street, had a display of a number of different types of raw, natural honeys, with and without the comb.
It is interesting to note that sealed jars of honey require no preservatives, as most microorganisms do not grow in honey, so honey does not spoil, even after thousands of years, according to Smithsonian magazine. The honey may, however, crystallize, which can be remedied by gently heating it.
Holly McCloud’s display of fresh flowers served to remind me that it was spring, even if the cool breeze argued the point. Holly operates the “Pocket of Poppies Flower Farm.”
William Nooney, on whom I did a column last Sunday, was at the market as he said he would be, with his hand-roasted Colombian and Guatemalan coffees and his free-range chicken eggs. I picked up a half-pound of dark Guatemalan coffee for my son, who appreciates such things.
There were other vendors than these, but I will meet them at another time, preferably when it is warmer. If you see me there some Thursday evening, be sure to say hello. I’ll probably be near the cookies and muffins.
O.C. Stonestreet is the author of “Tales From Old Iredell County,” “They Call Iredell County Home” and “Once Upon a Time … in Mooresville, NC.”