THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Parkersville Farmers Market: Second year brings new hours and schedule
By Jackie R. Broach
The tempting smell of kettle corn wafted through Parkersville Park on Wednesday morning as the first customers arrived at the Farmers Market, looking to take home fresh produce and baked goods, along with other local foods and goods.
The Farmers Market opened for its second season this week, with new hours and a longer schedule.
“Last year was really a test,” said Beth Goodale, Georgetown County director of recreation.
The market at Parkersville Park was open for only a partial season to gauge interest in having a farmers market in the Pawleys Island area.
“The response was huge,” Goodale said. “People seemed to really appreciate having a second location and another market day.”
So, it was brought back this year for a full 30-week run and with hours more in line with those of the Georgetown Farmers Market, which is open in East Bay Park on Saturday.
The Parkersville market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday. Last year, it was open from 3-7 p.m., but people started coming out around 2 p.m., and by 5, the activity had died off, said Paul McCulloch, recreation manager.
The vendors and visitors to the market said they’d prefer earlier hours, and organizers listened.
“I think it was a good move,” said Frank Capalbo, who owns and operates Sweetman’s Baked Goods. He sold his breads, cakes and cookies at the Farmers Market last year and said the heat during the summer was miserable.
“You were setting up in the heat of the day, and you were soaking wet by the time the customers got there,” he said. “Weather-wise, I think the earlier hours will be a lot better.”
Capalbo, who bakes out of a local kitchen and wants to open a shop in the near future, said he did good business at the market last year and is hoping to do better this year, as more people learn about the Farmers Market.
When the Farmers Market started last year, Goodale said, it took some folks a while to find the park. She said quite a few people she talked to hadn’t even realized the park existed.
Use of the park has picked up since the market opened last year due to exposure it brought, she said.
It’s still early in the season and local produce isn’t ready for sale yet, but a few vendors, including Mark Haynes, have ripe tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables from Florida. Haynes said his family will bring tomatoes, okra and squash from their garden in Georgetown later in the season.
This is the Haynes’ first year at the Farmers Market, and they’re optimistic, they said.
“We’re very confident about the quality of what we have to offer and we think people will respond to that,” Haynes said. “We have the best boiled peanuts in the county.”
Also new to the Farmers Market are gourmet soups prepared by Ernest Bledsoe, executive chef at Pawleys Plantation. His wife, Kimberly, will work at the market and said they’ll have different offerings every week.
This week Bledsoe prepared shrimp and corn chowder, beef and mushroom marsala, and spinach and artichoke dip.
“People asked him all the time when he was going to do something like this, and we finally decided to give it a shot,” she said.
The Farmers Market also has applewood smoked cheeses and herb rubs from David and Diana Robinson of Georgetown. The couple has sold their products at the Georgetown Farmers Market for five years and, after hearing about the success of the Parkersville location, decided to give it a try.
Charlotte Rafferty of Hagley and Cindy Schleinkofer of Georgetown are trying to give their new business, Uniquely Special, a boost at the Farmers Market. They offer a variety of products made in South Carolina and specialize in gluten-free foods.
“We’ll offer a lot of variety throughout the summer,” Rafferty said.
The number and variety of vendors at the market will increase as the season progresses, McCulloch said. Crab cakes and tomato pies are among the products on the way.