A farmer’s market runs spring, summer and fall. People flock to Laddonia’s Fourth of July celebration. There’s Mexico’s Soybean Festival, the Anchor Festival in Centralia and other events …
A farmer’s market runs spring, summer and fall. People flock to Laddonia’s Fourth of July celebration. There’s Mexico’s Soybean Festival, the Anchor Festival in Centralia and other events that mark the warmer seasons. And Laddonia lights it up come Christmas.
But for those who frequent the market, opportunities dwindle from January through March.
“Who’s to say we can’t have off-season festivals?” Brandt Schisler asked. “Who’s to say we can’t have fun?”
Schisler owns Hickory Ridge Orchard outside of Mexico. And today he is turning his place over to other farmers and producers for Support Local Farmers day. Setting up shop on Hickory Ridge grounds will be Hedge Holler Harvest, Heartsong Family Farms, Baker’s Heaven and Big Gun Kettle Corn.
There would be more, but “our store is small,” Schisler added.
It’s the first crack at what he hopes will become a larger series of festivals drawing the farmer’s market crowd – a collective effort between small farmers and those who craft local products to gather with the community and showcase their goods.
Hickory Ridge is already a destination in the fall for their pick-your-own fruits and pumpkins, petting zoo, maze and other features. They also have a store carrying products from 22 small central Missouri businesses.
Schisler spent time in Fort Collins, Colorado. He points out the city holds events and emphasizes local business. “The place was lively, thriving,” he added.
He points to the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival, which started in 1991, as an example of a small town event drawing thousands of visitors and a lot of money.
“It’s possible,” he said. “It takes people to make it happen.”
Today’s event will feature a wine and cheese tasting that includes a new pear wine wine from Hickory Ridge and is free for those of age. The featured farms and producers will have tables set up inside. “We’re going to test the waters and see how it works out,” he said, noting that follow up events are scheduled for Feb. 20 and March 20.
If it catches on, he anticipates expanding the festival to include live music and other fun features, as well as outdoor seating when the weather allows.
But those involved also want to bring attention to producers and fan the buy local movement. Schisler notes that small farmers and craftspeople do not compete against each other. They face the big retailers.
He hopes the day will encourage people to give small producers a bigger look.
And there’s one other thing he’s looking forward to. The folks from Big Gun Kettle Corn in Laddonia are bringing pork rinds.
“They’re pretty amazing,” Schisler said. “When they set up, I’m the first customer there.”
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