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Vendors preparing for farmers market

By JASON MORROW jmorrow@paducahsun.com

With the end of winter upon us, vendors will soon set up shop with local goods at the Paducah Homegrown Farmers' Market, which will open to the public May 6.

Danielle Smiley, assistant special events coordinator for Paducah Parks Services, said the farmers market has tripled in growth in the past few years, mostly because of the inclusion of farmers, artists and the monthly Celebration Saturday Market. Last year there were about 60 vendors overall.

"The farmers market really strengthens the community in that it is a relationship-building environment," she said.

Paducah Parks Services will hold a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday for new vendors interested in setting up a stand this season, which kicks off April 29 with a vendor setup day. The meeting will be held at 1400 H.C. Mathis Drive in the Paducah Parks Services conference room.

To be a part of the farmers market, vendors have to pay a $50 fee for the entire season. There is no limit as to how many vendors are allowed to sign up.

Few people are more excited than vendor Tanya Herring.

"It's a wonderful thing," she said. "It's a nice atmosphere down there, I love it."

Herring doesn't sell produce at the farmers market. She, along with her business partner, Linda Goin, sell art from their Paducah business Homemade By Design. Herring focuses on crocheted items, while Goin sells her sewing projects.

Herring said the duo have been vendors at the farmers market for the last two years.

"I'm trying some new items this year like purses and barefoot sandals, different things to try and draw in different interests," Herring said.

A big draw for customers is the fact that all the artists and farmers make their own goods and are limited on what they can sell from other producers.

"Our community gets to know exactly where their food is being grown," Smiley said. "They get to talk to farmers about the process, so they know exactly how the produce is treated."

Paducah Special Events Coordinator Molly Johnson said the market is considered local, but vendors come from many areas around the state.

"We basically say we are a local market, but we are also a regional market because of Paducah's unique location on the river," she said.

However, most of the vendors live within an hour drive of Paducah.

Before Smiley worked for Paducah Parks Services, she spent years going to the farmers market as a customer until she decided to start selling her own art.

"I haven't sold art outside of just making it and selling it to friends or family," she said. "When I heard that it was only $50 to set up, I thought it was an investment that I could make."

Other vendors are also looking forward to the upcoming season. Danny Garrett of Garrett Farm in Paducah said Saturdays during the summer give his business a boost.

"The farmers market is just extra for me," he said. "It's really nice to have. We only go one day a week, but that one day is really good."

Garrett said the unusual weather this winter has helped him with his produce.

"I grow a lot of stuff in the greenhouses," he said. "The weather has been good enough that we haven't had to use a lot of heat and and it hasn't cost a lot of money."

The market will officially begin May 6 and end Oct. 28. It will be open 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

"We anticipate a lot of new local vendors, which means more farms, artisans and community partners," Johnson said. "We also have another season of great celebration Saturdays lined up with live music, kids activities and food tastings for everyone to enjoy. Our Saturdays are our full markets and a true show of community coming together."

The Homegrown Farmers' Market is located at the corner of Second and Monroe streets.

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