Benton Market

A sign was posted at the entry of the Benton County Farmers Market Wednesday reminding people to follow COVID-19 rules while attending the market. The sidewalk was taped off and directed shoppers one-way through the market.

Two area farmers markets open this week. The Benton County Farmers Market opened for the season Wednesday, June 3 and Ripley’s Farmers Market will open Saturday, June 6.

This year things will be a little different at both markets.

The Benton County Market has a new time (8:30 - 11:30 a.m.) and extra safety procedures are in place due to COVID-19 concerns at both markets.

Janet Jones, organizer of the Benton County Market, said the safety protocols have been enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All vendors will be masked and gloved and will handle all products. Vendors will be spaced six feet apart and only one customer per vendor will be allowed. Also, customers are asked to wear a mask to protect themselves and others.

The Ripley Market will have have spaced out vendors wearing masks and gloves as well. Since the Ripley Market is located on the square, customers will also be allowed to drive through and shop without leaving their vehicle this year.

“Vegetables probably won’t be in season until a little later so most of the vendors will have baked goods, canned goods, arts and crafts (handmade),” said Ripley Main Street Director Elizabeth Behm. “We are looking for more vendors. It’s free to set up. We just need to know about it ahead of time.”

“This is the beginning of the growing year and as time goes on, more and more fresh, locally grown vegetables will be available. As a Certified Market, we have several categories for vendors including baked goods, wood crafts, jewelry, body lotions/creams, all handmade items,” said Jones.

Potential vendors should follow these guidelines for Benton County: All vegetables and fruits must be grown locally. Handmade crafts and jewelry are eligible. Soaps, lotions, and body products must have appropriate labeling.

“Because (Benton County) is a State Certified Market, we have more guidelines, that must be followed, set-forth by the Mississippi State Department of Agriculture and Commerce,” continued Jones. “Eggs, canned goods, and baked goods must follow guidelines of the Mississippi State Department of Health - Cottage Kitchen.” These guidelines can be viewed at msdh.ms.gov and mdac.ms.gov.

The Benton County market will be held on the Historic Benton County Courthouse lawn in Ashland and runs through the first of October depending on vegetable availability. If you would like to be a vendor or for more information, call or email Jones at 662-671-5563 or kudzuvinejanet@aol.com. Jones can also be contacted through the Benton County Farmers Market Facebook page.

If  interested in setting up at the Ripley Farmers Market, potential vendors can email ripleymainstreet@gmail.com, call 662-512-0226 or message Ripley Main Street on Facebook.

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