Now in its second year, the Lilburn's Farmers' Market debuted this weekend in Old Town, and hundreds of residents ventured out in the scorching heat to check out its goods.
Fifty-three vendors, half of whom were new to Lilburn's market, set up their tents opening day at 4 p.m. in the market's new location of the Greenway Parking Lot. Between the dozens of food booths, the market had everything: juicy peaches, tasty popsicles, pastries and cakes, spicy tamales and dozens of spices, just to name a few.
"It was really good last year, and it's actually bigger this year," said returning vendor Anthony W. Webster Jr. of Capstone Foods, talking about the number of people this season. Webster, a Smyrna resident, opened shop at the market to sell he and his wife's salsa, Sol Del Rio, which contains New Mexico chiles and "gets that tomato taste" without being tomato-based. Webster says he plans to sell his salsa (and he also sells relish, too) every Friday the market is open.
Similar to Webster, owner Matt Fleming of Haydengrove Farm in Locust Grove returns for the second year and said that everything so far is good. He and his sister Rachael Satterfield had blackberries, yellow squash, zucchini and lettuce lining their inventory opening night, and even though there was a good turnout for Friday's event, they expect more people to come as summer progresses.
"Later in the season when more local produce come in season, more customers start coming up," said Fleming, who owns the company with his wife, Emily Fleming.
Pearson Farm's peaches snuck their way into this year's market with lines of people waiting to get their juice-seeping fruit, which sold 70 peaches per box for $35 and a bag of nine peaches for $5.
Pearson Farm, whose peaches are sold at multiple markets in the metro and surrounding areas, had the same seller as last year, Dave Read. Comparable to the first Lilburn market, Read believes this year will be better than last summer.
"It's starting out good this year," he said. "It's set up better. Last year, we didn't get to see everybody," which a lot of vendors commented similarly, too. Last summer's market was located on a long strip along Railroad Avenue north of Main Street, and even though it was a success, many vendors complained that the strip made it hard for people to see every vendor in the market.
"It's a complete circle," said market manager Mandy McManus of the market's new location, which allows vendor spots to be placed in the center of the parking lot and along the edges. "Before, customers had to go back and forth" on a single strip.
One of the new vendors this year is Blue Tailed Lizard Tamales, run by Jeff and Deb Mushro. Having been at other Atlanta farmers' markets and even having a slot at Georgia Tech games next year, the tamales company incorporates American-style food with the tamales, having Caribbean jerk chicken, chicken and cheese, Barbacoa beef and smoked pork green chile tamales on their menu list.
Three spots down rested the King of Pops (also new to the market), an ice cream cart company started by two Snellville kids that has exploded with popularity in the ITP area. Now with almost a dozen carts on the streets, the company is trying to expand back to their nearby communities. King of Pops is known for its extraordinary pop flavors, including chocolate sea salt and grapefruit mint, and the company plans to stay at the Lilburn market for the rest of the season.
Not everyone was there simply to market their product, though. Pure 127 Soap Co.'s Bonnie Pruitt, an R.D. Head Elementary School teacher who sells scented soaps, returns this year to raise money so that she and her husband, Richard "Rip" Pruitt, can adopt a girl from Ethiopia. Last year the couple was able to adopt Jude, an Ethiopian orphan boy who is now 2-and-a-half years old.
"This is just a side hobby," said Bonnie Pruitt of her business. She started making soaps in 2002 but starting raising the adoption funds in 2008, selling her products at art auctions and then finally setting up shop last August at the Lilburn market. As the only person that makes the soaps, her scents include grapefruit and an intense peppermint that is sure to wake anyone in the morning.
Other returning vendors include Heavenly Pastries, run by Tanya M. Jackson who is the sole pastry and cake maker and delivers each order; Saucy Spirits, a wine jelly company run by Tiffany Wong and her 11-year-old son, Ryan O'Neill, who started making the jams as an alternative to mowing lawns last summer; and The Good Stuff, run by Lilburn residents Michael and Crystal Knox, who decided to start marketing their granola mixes after Michael Knox experimented with healthy foods to accommodate his Iron Man training.
As for the customers, many were able to get lots of samples and leave with bags filled with items. Jackie Thornberry, a Lilburn Woman's Club member and the Tallulah Falls school chair, purchased peaches, blackberries, cantaloupe, kale, onions, broccoli--and one beet.
"I've never cooked a beet before, so I thought I'd try it!" said Thornberry with a laugh.
There is plenty of produce and other vendors at the market every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For a complete list of vendors and for more information of the market, check out the Lilburn Farmer's Market website.