ELIZABETHTOWN — A blustery Friday afternoon brought back memories of a time gone by when folks gathered at the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market in downtown Elizabethtown for the ribbon-cutting ceremony that declared the market officially open for business.
Local officials, members of the Elizabethtown Town Council, town staff, members of Congressman Mike McIntyre’s staff, representatives from numerous agencies including the USDA Rural Development and the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund all gathered to mark the occasion.
Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell welcomed a crowd of about 150 people.
“This is such an exciting time for the town,” said Campbell.
She added the board entrusted the farmer’s market project to Town Manager Eddie Madden to oversee and the result has been impressive.
N.C. Rep. William Brisson spoke and praised the town staff for the planning and execution of the project.
“Planing is important,” said Brisson. “The farmers in Bladen County will use this facility. Consumers and customers who come here will get hand-picked, hand-selected, best quality food for your table.”
Brisson added farmers in Bladen County take pride in their products and they want to ensure the consumers receive the best quality product they can get.
Dan Gerlach of the Golden Leaf Foundation said the foundation board said the Farmer’s Market Project stood to the grant committee because it was a unique concept to take an existing building and remodel it and turn it into a farmer’s market.
“This one (grant project) was different and we wanted to see how you would do it,” said Gerlach.
Bill Teague of the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund echoed Gerlach’s sentiments.
“We wanted to see how you would make it work,” said Teague of the project.
Both men said their groups were impressed with the outcome.
One unique feature of the afternoon was a giant shopping cart parked in the parking lot. The approximately 13 feet tall and 15 feet long shopping cart grabbed the attention of passersby as well as those in attendance at the ribbon-cutting.
Chester Pipkin, who operates the shopping cart for the N.C. Department of Agriculture, said the purpose of the giant cart is to support the farmers of North Carolina.
“We go around the state to things like new farmer’s markets opening and we support the farmers,” said Pipkin. “We were happy to be able to come here.”
The cart is fueled by regular unleaded gasoline and is powered by a 350-horsepower Chevrolet “big block” engine. According to Pipkin, the cart uses about three gallons of gas per week and is transported on a flatbed trailer.
“It’s a good marketing tool,” said Pipkin.
Inside the Farmer’s Market, the atmosphere was cheerful and shopping was brisk as a crafts fair was taking place to celebrate the occasion of the ribbon-cutting.
In addition to the anchor stores of Burney’s Sweets and More, and Inman’s meat market, booths were offering all manner of Christmas decorations as well as baked goods, and handmade pillows, cookbooks and homemade cakes as well as handmade jewelry.
A booth maintained by Wesley’s Chapel Church ladies offered cookbooks, decorated cake keepers and baked goods. Linda Carey and her sister, Gerry Carey, offered handmade pillows, gluten-free organic baked goods such as cookies and dog treats.