By Paul T. Choate
May 4, 2012. The Watauga County Farmers’ Market will return to Horn in the West at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 5, for the start of the 2012 season. This comes after months of speculation that the market might have to open in the parking lot of Kmart, where the Wednesday market was located last season.
The local bluegrass band Upright and Breathin’ will be providing live music for opening day.
According to Bill Moretz, president of the market, everything was resolved in time to allow for the opening at Horn in the West.
“[The agreement] was mainly between the Farmers’ Market and SAHA (Southern Appalachian Historical Association) but the town gave its blessing to it.”
“We got a lot of feedback last year from customers and they really liked the Horn in the West location better,” said Moretz. He also added that many parents with small children preferred Horn in the West because it was safer than the parking lot at Kmart.
“They kind of like the ambiance up there too. When your customers tell you something, you tend to listen.”
The Wednesday market, opening June 6, will also operate at Horn in the West this year.
Moretz said one thing different about the market this year is that they will be working closer with area non-profit organizations. Non-profits will be able to attend the market and give out information about their organizations.
The non-profit PHARMN will be hosting children’s activities throughout the season on several occasions.
The Farmers’ Market also has a new market manager this year. Tori Cox was hired in January of 2012, replacing Karen Baumen.
“She’s got a lot of enthusiasm and she has a really good personality about her,” said Moretz. “Most of us are these old dinosaurs and don’t know anything about Facebook and she does, so that helps too.”
Moretz said the market had 19 applicants for the position and that it was a lengthy, in-depth process to narrow the field to one.
Despite having a home at Horn in the West for the 2012 season, the long-term future is still uncertain for the market.
“I think the most important thing in the long run that would help the market is a permanent home,” said Cox. “So whether it’s Horn in the West or whether it’s another location I think people just want to know that the market isn’t going to be in limbo each year. Whether Horn in the West is that spot has yet to be decided.”
Cox added that based on the results of surveys taken, vendors also prefer Horn in the West as the market’s location.
Although questions remain regarding a permanent home for the market, expectations are high for the 2012 season. There are 75 spots for vendors this season and most, if not all, of them are expected to fill up.
“We have a great market and we hope to continue to build relations with community members and non-profits,” said Cox. “We are really looking forward to seeing everybody on the fifth.”
Horn in the West is located at 591 Horn in the West Drive in Boone.
For more information on the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, visit wataugacountyfarmersmarket.org or call 828-355-4918.
To hear music from Upright and Breain’, visit myspace.com/uprightbreathin39.