The new farmers market season in Unicoi kicked off last week and will continue every Tuesday through October from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Unicoi Tourist Information and Visitors Center, just off Interstate 26 at exit 32.
New this year, the market will feature a weekly yard sale for the community with free vendor spots to run alongside the market of fresh produce, prepared foods and craft booths.
Unicoi Communications and Programs Director Ashley Shelton said while there isn’t a large amount of locally grown produce available at this time of year, the market is expected to grow rapidly as local crops come in.
Last week’s kickoff featured one produce vendor, one yard sale vendor, a flower and garden plant booth, a custom made T-shirt booth and Pat Lynch’s artisan breads, cakes and homemade lemonade that have been a staple at the market for many years.
Most importantly, Shelton said, the season’s first market attracted a steady stream of shoppers. More produce and craft vendors are expected at Tuesday’s market, and with good luck, Shelton said, the market’s first live musicians may also be on hand.
Food trucks will also be scheduled to be on site for the market as soon as feasible, Shelton said. But for now, the emphasis in on encouraging more vendors to come out.
“We want to provide people a place to shop, eat and gather on a weekly basis,” Shelton said. “By combining the (farmer’s market and community yard sale), we’re hoping to broaden the audience and offer both vendors and visitors a more diverse experience.”
The Tanasi Art Gallery located inside the visitors center will also be open weekly to offer market shoppers a fun escape from the heat. And picnic tables will be set up to allow visitors to browse the booths, purchase something fresh to eat and sit back to enjoy their lunch along with the view overlooking Unicoi Drive to the east and Buffalo Mountain to the west.
Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said the goal of combing the two events is to “help bring the community together and provide both local growers and residents with a solid outlet for their products.”
Produce, craft and food vendors spots are available for a minimal $5 fee that is good for the entire season and yard sale spots are free. All vendors must complete a registration form available at the visitors center and at the town’s website, www.unicoitn.net.
Vendors may also sign up by contacting Patricia Bennett at the visitors center at 423-935-0517.