Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Bridge City draws people with Saturday farmers market

Starting time is supposed to be eight in the morning. But by five minutes later, the parking lot is full and cars are stopping along ditches. Lines have already formed at booths.

The Bridge City Farmers Market is open on an early summer's Saturday morning and drawing a crowd to the easy-going, family event where a wide variety of homemade and homegrown goods are found. But of course, it's the tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash and corn in the shucks that draw the biggest lines.

The Bridge City Farmers market is the longest currently open farmers market in Orange County and may be soon be the only one. An unofficial market set-up in Pinehurst last week was run off of a private parking lot. A city official said any street sales in the city limits require a city-issued peddler's license that needs the property owner's permission. The group did not have a permit to operate at the shopping center owned by Phelan Investments of Beaumont.

Mauriceville has tried a farmers market for a couple of years on certain Thursdays. But last week, the event didn't draw vendors or crowds last week. The Mauriceville market, set up by the community center on Cohenor Road, has announced one more try for this summer on Thursday, June 27. Then, a reorganization may be needed.

The Bridge City Farmers Market started about a decade ago and is set up off Parkside Drive off West Roundbunch Road. The grounds include the Bridge City library, community center, splash pad, and youth ball parks.

The event is the place to spend a leisurely Saturday morning visiting with old friends and acquaintances, along with making new ones. As a line wound around a series of long folding tables with bins of fresh vegetables, people chatted across the bins and waved at old friends.

Food trucks were set up in the parking lot offering a variety of items including custom pizza and hot coffee. Nearby, bakers set out displays of fresh mini-cakes, rolls, breads, cookies, and soft, buttery cinnamon rolls with thick icing that require a wet napkin after eating.

Chosen Weeds Farm brought rich soaps made with moisturizing goat milk and brought an attraction to bring customers. A baby goat on a leash drew a lot of attention from children. The booth also had wooden cutouts of goats with holes to allow people to stick their heads through for a funny photograph.

Paige Price from Nederland provided easy-listening singing with acoustic guitar. She said she attends different farmers markets in the area to perform. The markets are the perfect way for people to get healthy foods, she said, along with others being able to make money from selling their goods.

She was eyeing a booth selling elderberry syrup. It was the best in the area, she said. Elderberry syrup is a popular homeopathic help against cold, flu, and other respiratory problems.

Also, bouquets of colorful zinnias and sunflowers, plus plants were on display for purchase. The Orange County Master Gardeners were there to give plant advice and hand out free wildflower seeds.

Vendors sold homemade jams, jellies, and salsas, along with creative blends of spices and seasons, and original sauces. Shoppers could find original windchimes and leatherwork. Even natural dog treats were on sale.

And speaking of natural, Eclectic Acres Farm based in the county had a variety of poultry, beef, and pork that were grown naturally and butchered in small shops. Their fare included a bag of dog treats consisting of dehydrated chicken feet for pups to gnaw.

Farmers markets are a popular way for consumers to get items that are not overly processed in corporate manufacturing plants. In some cities, the farmers markets go back more than a century. But the popularity of the markets increased in at the turn of the 21st Century.

The city of Orange started a farmers market in October 2008, a month after Hurricane Ike flooded the southern part of Orange County, including the downtown Orange area where the market was first held.

When spring came, the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organized the event, moved it to the parking lot at Lions Park. But within months, the city dropped the market.

However, the original plans for the Riverfront boardwalk and pavilion area included a design to hold a farmers market in downtown near the county courthouse.

After the city of Orange dropped its market, a group of growers then organized and set up a market along MacArthur Drive in the parking lot of the shopping center where Big Lots is located. The market was open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

Through the years, the market became unorganized, but growers would still set up their goods on the parking lot on those days.

The same parking lot area grew to become a popular place for selling anything and everything. People driving along MacArthur Drive could see anything from used boats and cars for sale to large household-style garage sales on that parking lot.


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