Ornate and antique lanterns of all shapes and sizes will help guide your way to make your Thanksgiving celebration that much more special or get a jump on some early Christmas shopping or simply to enjoy a late fall evening in downtown Statesboro.
The Mainstreet Farmers Market will once again conclude its season with the festive and much-anticipated Shopping by Lantern Light event on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving. The annual event has become the unofficial start to the Boro’s holiday season and is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Sea Island Bank parking lot. The family-friendly night boasts local vendors galore, live music and much fun and fellowship.
“It’s the grand finale for the season,” said Debra Chester, co-founder of the Downtown Farmers Market and member of the board of directors for the Market. “Shopping by Lantern Light is the Market’s gift to our community to remind us of our heritage, who we are and where we came from and that Bulloch County is an agricultural community.
“It’s a time to come together as a community to be grateful. When you come to the Market, you see the bounty that the farmers bring to the community.
“The event helps to kick off the holiday season where shoppers may find locally-grown foods and handmade crafts for their holiday gatherings,” Chester continued. “The downtown Sea Island Bank parking area will once again be transformed into an old-fashioned market place, and lantern lights will provide a soft glow over shopping choices from dozens of food and craft booths.”
JJ Lee of Lee Family Farms of Statesboro said the holiday event is a great opportunity to educate the public and “show them what we’re about. Many people don’t see the farm side of it.
“I think it brings the community and farmer together at a time when we need to remember where our food comes from.”
Lee said he’ll have all kinds of greens and traditional crops – everything but the turkey and stuffing – at the market to complete the Thanksgiving Day menu.
But never fear – most likely at a booth or two further down the parking lot, patrons can purchase or preorder baked casseroles, stuffing or goodies to finish out the meal.
The largest market of the season, Shopping by Lantern Light is unique to the region, and Chester said thousands will come to wander among the booths, making holiday selections.
Shoppers can purchase produce and products like honey and honey-related items, cornmeal, grits, flour, apple tarts, roasted chestnuts, firewood, herbs for stuffing, poultry, beef, pork, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, baked goods, onions, eggs, broccoli, greens and carrots, just to name a small sample.
Visitors to the Lantern event can nibble on pralines, cake pops, Georgia blueberry pies, cookies, chocolate-covered peanuts, Caribbean food, Italian sausage, kettle corn and breads and other baked goods and sip on coffee, coffee drinks, hot chocolate and hot cider.
And if the palate-pleasing menu doesn’t offer enough enticement to join the merriment, then surely the selection of handmade arts and crafts items will sway customers to head to the event. Guests can find locally-made ceramic and wood items, placemats and table runners, dog scarves, soaps and laundry detergent, leather and pearl jewelry and various crocheted items.
Additionally, local authors will be on hand to autograph their newest literary contributions.
Al Clark of Clark and Sons Farms says he believes what makes the Shopping by Lantern Light event a special night is the opportunity to fellowship with others in the community. “It’s a really fun night, even more of a family atmosphere than the Saturday Farmers’ Market.”
When asked what he’d have to offer at his booth, Clark responded, “We’re gonna have our soon-to-be world-famous sausage dogs and our peanut products that are already world famous.”
Not only is the event touted as a family evening, most of the vendor booths are manned by families working together to share their wares with others. For example, the Seven Willows Body Care Company is owned and managed by Carol Calhoun and her seven children.
“Shopping by Lantern Light brings out the best Statesboro has to offer,” Calhoun said. “The mood is great during the evening shopping and everyone is excited about the holidays.”
Calhoun points out that their natural body care products are made with local resources, like the peaches and grits lip scrubs made from Freeman’s Mill grits and soaps made with Farmer’s Market goat milk.