Eric Standridge is a published author who writes about a wide variety of subjects.
Founded in 2013, the Poteau Farmer's Market is focused on healthy lifestyles and healthy living. From its humble beginnings, it has been focused on serving the community. The goal is to provide a gathering location in Poteau that allows farmers, ranchers, artists, musicians, and nonprofits to come together in a healthy, fun environment.
The Market's Humble Beginnings
After nearly two years of planning, the first day of the Poteau Farmer's Market arrived. A grand opening was envisioned. The market was to be located inside Poteau's Town Square. The founders organized several vendors and everything was looking promising.
Until the rain came.
It was torrential. It was almost certain that the Poteau Farmer's Market would end even before it was begun. Vendors were scheduled to start setting up at 6 in the morning, but by then, the rain had been coming down for hours. Of the many vendors who agreed to come out, only two arrived.
Despite the cold and the rain, they set up under the eve of the small stage in the Town Square. Cold, wet, and miserable, they endured. The Poteau Farmer's Market was born.
How the Poteau Farmer's Market Serves
From that first rainy day, the market expanded rapidly. It went from two vendors to seven by the end of the first year. The second year saw around 15 vendors, and by the third year, the market reached capacity with 25 vendors.
One of the main goals of the market has always been to help out the community.
The first to take advantage of this was J & J Crafts. At the time, the founder of J&J was a senior at Northeastern University in Tahlequah. She was working towards getting a degree in Early Childhood Education. They brought out small craft items in order to raise money for an International Internship opportunity. Through the help of the Poteau Farmer's Market, she was able to complete her internship at the Vienna International School in Austria.
In 2018, a very inspiring young man and his father set up at the market with a unique goal. Wyatt and his father were talking one day when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. His reply, "An Astronaut!" Typically, that's about where the conversation ends, but the father started thinking more about it and wondered if it could be done. This set out a journey that would lead young Wyatt to the starts.
Working together, they set out to achieve this dream. It started with a batch of chocolate toffee. Each week, young Wyatt prepared the toffee to be sold at the Poteau Farmer's Market. By the end of the year, through donations, sales at the market, and a lot of hard work, Wyatt and his father had saved up enough to go to space camp. In their own words, "It's not just about being an astronaut. It's also about becoming a man with a solid foundation built upon love and hard work. "
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Through the season, the market helps out a wide variety of people throughout LeFlore County. It has been a popular place for school students to raise money, for non-profits to help support their missions, and for people to come together and learn more about their community.
Music and Entertainment
Throughout the year, the Poteau Farmer's Market hosts a variety of musicians and entertainers. This was a tradition started in 2014 which continues on through today.
Local artists are encouraged to perform at the market, not only to raise a few dollars in tips but to give back to the community. The market has hosted everything from full five-piece bands to the Poteau High School Cheer Squad.
On days that live entertainment isn't available, a full sound system is set up to provide ambiance to the market.
Always Farm Fresh, Home Grown, and Home Made!
The Poteau Farmer's Market is all Oklahoma Grown. The founders and market committee visits each farm to ensure that visitors receive the freshest vegetables, beef, and poultry products.
Through working with the ONIE Project, Oklahoma Grown, the OSU Agricultural Extension Office, and with partnerships with other regional Farmer's Markets, the Poteau Farmer's Market has been able to create processes that ensure the best and freshest food available in the area.
Because this market's products are all Oklahoma Grown, only the items that are in season are sold at the market. They refuse to import products, only doing so by special customer request.
As with the agricultural products, the Poteau Farmer's Market also requires that arts and craft vendors make at least 60% of their products themselves. Some resale vendors are allowed, but any vendor reselling products are required to mark their products as such.
Visiting the Poteau Farmer's Market
The Poteau Farmer's Market is located on Broadway in the Strike-a-lot Lanes Bowling Alley parking lot. Nearby shopping includes Jack's Jewelers, Town Center Pawn, Factory Connection, D&D Pharmacy, and more. The market typically runs April through October, on Saturdays from 8 AM until Noon. Times and dates may vary depending on the season.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you have to pay a fee to be a vendor at the Poteau Farmer's Market?
Answer: You do not have to pay to be a vendor. The Poteau Farmer's Market is geared to helping the community, especially those in agriculture, arts, and crafts. They ask that if you do well that you make a donation back to the market to help ensure its continued success.
© 2019 Eric Standridge