At the local supermarket, consumers can find the newest brands, the “freshest” products, the cheapest deals. But no matter how much they fill their shopping cart, something may be missing.
While visiting the Oviedo Farmer’s Market, which celebrates its first anniversary this Saturday, shoppers may realize the key ingredient that’s absent: a sense of community that’s hard to find in local superstores.
From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Historic Lawton House on West Broadway Street will be overrun with booths stacked with fresh bread, harvested honey, sauces, seasonings, gingerbread cookies, homemade soups, fresh produce and even organic pet treats.
“We’re really blessed with our vendors,” said Lars White, president of the Oviedo Historical Society, one of the founders of the young market and Oviedo’s fire chief. “You’ll find just about everything you’re looking for. We’ve carefully reserved space over the year to have a lot of variety.”
Nearly 30 vendors will set up shop in the market come Saturday. Of the 25 vendors who originally came to the Oviedo market last year, all but one has continued to return to the monthly market.
“We just wanted to start a farmers market and go from there,” said Nita Raulson, another founder of the market and chairwoman of the society’s event committee during the market’s inception. “We give local growers and vendors a place to sell in the area. So many have come up to us and said, ‘we’re so glad you started this.’”
Every vendor has also donated a portion of their wares to the society to be raffled off to customers throughout the day. Roughly every 30 minutes, 10 prizes will be given out to shoppers, who will receive a raffle ticket when they enter the market.
When conceiving the idea for the market, Raulson and White based the model of the Oviedo site off established markets in Winter Springs, Maitland and Lake Mary. Raulson said deciding on a location became the key decision. In the end, since it was already open for tours and provided ideal parking, the Lawton House museum presented the best option.
“It was just an ideal project to start. There was not one in this area. We had people from here going to these other markets, and we felt it was advantageous for the location of our town,” Raulson said.
The market is also held once a month as opposed to weekly or semi-weekly, like other farmers’ markets in the area.
“If we had it every week, people would become blasé about attending,” Raulson said. “People look forward to it. It’s become a social meeting place.”
Adding to the social atmosphere of the event is something no other market in the area can boast: live music. The Leftover Biscuits, led by 80-year-old guitarist Tom Denton, has been performing at the market since the first booth opened up, and the band has become part of the tradition of the Oviedo Farmer’s Market.
With no members younger than 65, the group has been regularly playing throughout Geneva for nearly seven years, but the Oviedo market has always been one of the highlights of their schedule.
“[It’s] something about the people,” Denton said. “They always tell us how they like our music. It made us feel good and we feel that we fit right in. That’s what we’re looking forward to this weekend. That’s one of our favorite places right now. We have a wonderful time whenever we go.”
“They say it makes the market like a festival. Other markets don’t have [live music],” Raulson said. “Most all used to go to other markets. They tell us that there isn’t any other market where they have as much fun as our market.”
White notes that many other markets may have more to offer and have been around longer, but to him, the market’s early success bodes well for the future. The market “stands out because it is only a year in the making,” White said. “I can’t think of any better organized, plain fun farmer’s market.”