The Pekin Park normally sits idle for most weeks of the year. On Saturday a new resident, The Washington County Artisan Farmer’s Market, moves in and will offer local residents a unique shopping experience while showing off one of the town’s hidden treasures.
The market, which is the community project of the Awareness Washington County Class of 2011, is the first of it’s kind in the area. All items are home grown or hand made.
“One of the things we wanted to make sure of was that this did not turn into a flea market,” said one of the board members Shannon Voyles. “That’s why we made the requirements, home-grown or hand made.”
Voyles said there are always exceptions. She pointed to a number of local photographers who have expressed interest in setting up at the market.
“They didn’t hand make their pictures or grow them, but photography is their craft and that’s the kind of vendors we are looking for,” she said.
A press release issued by the market’s board states that “the mission of the group is to provide local, fresh, seasonal produce and unique artisans crafts to the people of Washington and surrounding counties.
“The market is a place where producers and consumers support the local economy and serve each others needs.”
Starting Saturday, the Artisans Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October.
Voyles said she isn’t sure what the final date of the market will be, but she said it would be open at least through October.
In addition to the shopping experience, the market’s board has lots of things planned to keep folks coming back.
Among the things planned include musicians, children’s activities and there will also be a Vendor of the Week highlighted each week.
The first highlighted vendor is Pam Hoover of Rooster Run Farm.
Voyles and fellow Board member Nick Siler said they are also open to help from the community and those shopping at the market.
“We can only come up with so many ideas,” Voyles said. “We want people to offer suggestions. We are also looking for folks who want to volunteer and help with the market and getting the word out.”
Anyone wanting to become involved can visit the group’s page at www.faceboo-k.com.
For those without internet access, they can call board member Alan Bishop at 967-2073 or send e-mail to
That contact information is for those wanting to volunteer or become a vendor at the weekly market.
The goal heading into the first market was to have at least 30 vendors and it looks like the group has achieved that goal.
The hope is as people visit the market and see the set up, more vendors will come and want to be a part of it.
Anyone wanting to sell their home grown or hand made items can set up for the season for a one-time $20 fee.
Siler said once they pay that fee, they can set up as often or little as they would like through the season.
The only request for vendors is that if they set up on a given Saturday, that they stay for the entire four hours so no one is trying to leave while customers are shopping.
“That’s more of a safety issue,” Voyles said.
Another unique feature to the Artisans Farmers Market is that each week a local non-profit will have the opportunity to serve breakfast and raise funds and also highlight themselves and the work they do in the community.
Prior to the start of the first market Saturday, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. Members of the Pekin Town Council and other elected officials are expected to attend.
Voyles and Siler both agreed that the group wouldn’t be where they are without Pekin Town Manager Gary Nale and the town council being so easy to work with.
“They were receptive to the idea right away and have helped in every way we asked them to,” Siler said.
Some of the items that will be available to purchase Saturday include, plants, vegetables, wooden children’s toys, seeds, baked goods, soaps, knitted and crocheted items, jewelry, blankets, pillows, photography, paintings, baby things, eggs, meats, woodworking and much more.
This week’s breakfast and lunch will be sold by the Pekin Community Betterment Committee, with proceeds being used to help the town’s annual Fourth of July Festivities.