Pineville will open its first farmers market May 21 to help boost the economy and add an incentive for residents to shop downtown.
The Main Street Downtown Market will run May through September and feature locally grown produce and handmade crafts. The only imported items will be produce that won't grow in the Carolinas, such as bananas and Vidalia onions. Crafts will include pottery, artwork and jewelry. Nonprofits promoting fundraisers, exhibits or services also will be considered as vendors.
The market will be open Tuesday and Thursday 3-7 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and will have room for eight or nine vendors. It will be held in the Police Department parking lot on Main Street, and a second location on Main Street will be opened if there is enough vendor interest.
The idea for the market came from Don Eury, who has had a large garden at his home in Pineville for 50 years. He's been selling his produce from a stand in his yard for years but said he'd like to reach more people.
"I always sell out of everything I grow," said Eury. "I've been taking my veggies to some markets around town but am glad to hear one will be closer to home."
Kevin Icard, Pineville's town planning director, heard Eury's market idea and thought it could be expanded.
"I knew if we let Mr. Eury do it, we'd have a lot of other people wanting to join in," said Icard. "By creating the market, we can give residents the opportunity to share their produce and crafts with the community."
Icard said he hopes the market will grow after its introduction.
"The Matthews farmers market is fairly large," he said. "I hope in five or 10 years we'll have something like that."
Vendors must submit an application and pay a $50 seasonal fee. Vendor space is first come first served, and vendors must provide tables and tents. So far, Eury is the only vendor who has submitted an application, but Icard said he's had many inquiries.
Icard, who has been named the market manager, said the seasonal fee is necessary to make sure serious vendors apply.
"The money is to make sure we get legitimate famers who want to come in and be a part of this," said Icard. "If we were to do it for free, we might have vendors show up one day and never show up again."
Icard said he hopes the market will entice patrons from outside Pineville. "Hopefully people will come to the market and take the time to visit our downtown merchants as well," he said.
"This is an opportunity for people to get, literally, locally grown produce," he said.