HAMLET — Hamlet will scale its summer farmers’ markets back to once a month, down from a steadily sagging four.
When they began last summer, the markets took off like gangbusters, selling crowder peas to cucumbers, locally processed honey to muscadine slushies. Sometimes, crafters brought their wares. Food trucks came with barbecue, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse hugged the kids.
But the charm, apparently, wore off. Vendors didn’t show up or came late and, without enough produce to make a trip to downtown worthwhile, forced organizers to cut sales hours.
“We didn’t have as many vendors show up every single week,” Stephanie Thornsbury, Hamlet’s downtown-event organizer, said Thursday. “So we’re hoping that (by cutting the markets to once a month), they’ll be able to plan better.”
Thornsbury and City Manager Jonathan Blanton made the decision last month, she said: This year’s markets will be from 4-7 p.m., the third Thursday monthly, from April 19 to Sept. 20.
Vendors who sign up to attend the county’s farmers’ markets pay a $25 fee that covers sales at any one of three venues — at Harrington Square in Rockingham on Saturday mornings, Wednesday afternoons in the parking lot of the Richmond County Extension Service office on Caroline Street or in Hamlet.
Trouble is, the vendors don’t have to tell the markets which site they plan to visit, if any.
“They can go to either (or) go to none,” Thornsbury said, referring to Rockingham and Hamlet.
The Richmond Farmers Market Association actually runs the markets and has held one planning meeting so far this year. Another will come up in March.
The plans for the Rockingham markets this year are 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays in Harrington Square and 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays at the Extension offices, Extension director Susan Kelly said Thursday.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]