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A big season for Market
Mainstreet Farmers Market set for annual 'Lantern'
Web Farmer Market file
Two patrons of the Downtown Farmers Market pick up some fresh strawberries early in the market's season. - photo by JAMES HEALY/Herald File

      The Mainstreet Farmers Market is going to celebrate its fifth annual Shopping By Lantern Light on Tuesday evening, Nov. 20 in the downtown Sea Island Bank parking area.
      "We will have 50 plus vendors this year, and anticipate over 3,000 shoppers who come from throughout the region including Emanuel, Jenkins, Jefferson, Candler, Evans, Tattnall, Chatham, Bryan and Screven counties," said market manager Debra Chester. "It is becoming a tradition of which we are very proud to offer to the community. No one else does this in the region - a pre-Thanksgiving farmers market at night."
       According to Chester, the area will be transformed into a nostalgic shopping venue lit by the soft glow of lantern light.
       "This event announces the holiday season by offering shoppers the best in regional foods, crafts, decorations and entertainment," Chester said. "Dozes of farmers, food vendors, and artist/craft exhibits will provide shoppers with many choices for holiday gift giving and meals."
       Stacey Freeman of Freeman's Mill has been selling his family's flour, grits, and corn meal at the Farmers Market since it opened. He attributes the growth of his family's business solely to its participation in the Saturday market.
       "I cannot sing the praises of the Farmers Market enough," Freeman said. "We are selling product all over the country. We never anticipated this much growth in our business. We are shipping to restaurants throughout the state. I'm just amazed. I have left my career as an educator work in the business full time."
       This year, the Farmers Market ran from April 7 through November 17. Chester said the emphasis this past season was on educating consumers on what is seasonal, local, and affordable, and how to prepare it.
       "We acquired for the second year the Discover You Can grant from the Ball Canning Company to help promote 'saving the season' by stocking up what is available and preserving it," she said. "We also won a national contest sponsored by Ball for the most creative and educational promotion event which was our Market Around the World for each week during the month of July."
       First year market participant Jason Berry of Vidalia-based Berry Organics said the Farmers Market has been a very positive experience, and he is looking forward to his first Shopping by Lantern Light.
       "We were able to provide good, local organic food to shoppers this year, and the Farmers Market proved to be a great outlet for us," he said. "It was a great first year, and we are already planning for next year, and how to keep a steady flow of produce all year long. We are really excited about next Tuesday. We are bringing cabbage, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and probably a few bell peppers and eggplant depending on the weather."
       Chester said the nighttime event will feature farmers/food producers, prepared foods, baked goods, plants, flowers, holiday decorations, and craft vendors.
       "Shoppers will find a great assortment of fresh flowers, wreaths and plants for holiday decorations and hostess gifts," Chester said. "Also there will be fresh turkeys, prepared casseroles, cuts of pork, beef, and poultry. Also, the local dairy vendor will have eggnog and pumpkin ice cream, in addition to other dairy products."
       Chester said Hunter Cattle will be grilling, and the Boy Scouts will be selling Boston Butts.

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