They say people don't know what they have until it's gone, and for Auburn residents, that is the nearly nine-month wait for the City Market to re-open.
As hundreds gathered at Town Creek Park on Saturday to kick off the first farmers market of the summer, they were once again able to patronize their favorite vendors.
The City Market, which was started in October 2019 to provide a traditional Saturday farmers market experience to the Auburn-Opelika area, has seen its footprint steadily increase year after year.
“We had just 10 to 12 vendors to start, and we have 30-plus now with a waiting list,” said Sarah Cook, the market’s organizer. “The participating community is very local and wants to see it grow.”
That enthusiasm was evident as cars filled parking lots in and around the park within an hour of the market opening and eventually lined South Gay Street.
Cook said she hopes to eventually offer space for up to 50 vendors, who sell goods such as locally grown produce, hand-made jewelry and baked goods, on rotating schedules to accommodate that demand.
Those in attendance said they believed the market’s success can be attributed to the friendly atmosphere and impact it has on the local economy.
“We came out last year for the first time and come every Saturday [that the market is open] now,” said Mike Jerniagan, a customer. “We like to help out the local farmers and come see people we know.”
Of all the goods he and his wife enjoy, peanut brittle and fresh Chilton County peaches were at the top of the list.
For vendors such as sisters Anna and Liana Freeman of Serenity Farms and Bakery, the impact this support has on business and the community itself is invaluable.
“It is our biggest market, and it’s been great for us,” Liana said. “Today we sold out in 32 minutes.”
They said the process to bake their sourdough loaves, cinnamon rolls and garlic French bread from scratch begins less than 48 hours in advance to ensure everything is fresh, and that they run out of baked goods quickly.
“We appreciate all of our customers, and I love it because it allows us to connect with the community,” Anna said.
Local non-profits like the Auburn Beautification Council (ABC), which sells flowers and other potted houseplants to help pay for the upkeep of downtown Auburn’s flower baskets, also benefit from the market.
“The market provides the people, and the City has been very gracious and added us to their advertising,” said Julie McGwin, co-president of the ABC.
ABC members also expressed joy in being able to help attendees add color and life to their living spaces.
“The best thing is to help people have more pride in their home, and we’re able to help with that,” said Kay Rucknor, former president of the ABC.
For others like Fabricio Landim, the goods themselves were not the primary draw. It was the sense of community.
“We didn’t know [it was going on], and we were passing by and thought it looked very interesting," Landim said.
Having immigrated to the United States from Brazil to pursue a Ph.D. in horticulture, he said the market in the park where his family frequently visits was a pleasant surprise.
“It’s very friendly and family-oriented here, which is nice because we get to play with the baby,” he said as his wife and young son kicked a soccer ball back and forth nearby.
To emphasize the family-friendly atmosphere, Cook said the market plans on offering live music and bouncy houses for children in addition to the rotating selection of vendors.
The City Market will be open every Saturday until Aug. 27 from 8-11 a.m.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.