Beaufort farmers market finds new home, will lead to West St. closure

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 13, 2012 

Diana Deaner is looking forward to Wednesday when she can step out of her restaurant, Nippy's, and into a farmers market that will bring fresh fruits and vegetables literally to her doorstep.

"I think it's a great idea -- anything that can help the downtown vendors, the shops, get more people down here," she said of the changes planned for this year's Beaufort farmers market.

Originally in Pigeon Point and most recently at Freedom Mall on Bay Street by the marina, the farmers market will have a new home and hours this year.

The stands will be set up on West Street between the BB&T bank drive-through lane and Craven Street, said LaNelle Fabian, executive director of Main Street Beaufort, USA. The bank's drive-through will remain open during the market.

Instead of being opened from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., it will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to encourage people to stop in after work on Wednesdays. The road will be closed from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. to allow for set up and cleanup, Fabian said.

"This is a reason to come downtown," she said. "This is going to be an event. We want people to say, 'It's Wednesday, it's farmers market day, let's go downtown.' "

She hoped about a dozen stalls -- a mix of restaurants, farmers and crafters -- would occupy the market and that it would grow to about 20 venders. Music and entertainment also will be planned.

Not everyone is optimistic the changes will help the market, which only had about five vendors at Freedom Mall.

City Councilman George O'Kelley was the sole dissenting vote, with Councilman Mike McFee absent, in a 3-1 council vote to use West Street. O'Kelley argued that closing the road during work hours would be inconvenient for downtown employees and visitors.

John Trask III, whose family owns a parking lot on West Street beside the market site, echoed those concerns.

"I think it's shortsighted, because for the city to shut down a main artery in downtown Beaufort during five hours in the afternoon, (it) has the potential to hurt downtown businesses, because it's going to be inconvenient for us, as far as traffic goes because, in effect, that's our rush hour," he said.

He said the city should have explored other options that would not have required closing a street.

Related content:

New downtown location eyed for Beaufort farmers market, May 8, 2012

Beaufort farmers market moves to Freedom Park, April 11, 2010

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.

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