Keeping it fresh

LEWISBURG – Like the leaves changing with the return of autumn, a mix of colors – from red to green to yellow – is everywhere as those from around the region converge on the Lewisburg Farmer’s Market every Wednesday for fresh produce and meats.

The market, which has been on Fairground Road in Lewisburg since the early 1930s, keeps its patrons returning year-round by hosting vendors with fresh produce and food items, along with small crafts.

Produce, such as carrots, bell peppers and the fall favorite pumpkins, brings vendors and region residents alike to the market.

“You can pick and choose what you want and what looks fresh,” said Kathy Rakerd, of Lewisburg, on why she continues to frequent the market.

Rakerd, who said she has been coming to the market for the past 40 years, said selection is key. Unlike grocery stores, customers at the market are able to browse many different stands to find the best items. Rakerd noted she also enjoys the meat selection.

The selection of goods also is what brings Jerry Reed, of Winfield, each Wednesday to the market. But it’s not the only thing, as he also noted that being able to support local farmers and businesses is an added bonus.

Rather than put his money in the pockets of others, he’d rather keep it in the area.

“I like to do business with local people rather than the big chains,” Reed said.

Buying local is a concept that has grown in popularity in the past decade, according to Mike Leitzel, manager of the market for the past 30 years.

“Ten years ago it wasn’t as in vogue, I would say. But now it’s important that they buy local,” Leitzel said.

And if a local selection is what customers are looking for, they have plenty to choose from as Leitzel reported that about 75 to 100 vendors are setup at the market each week selling a variety of goods.

Even when the economy isn’t in the best shape, Leitzel said business has been good.

“It pretty largely has stayed the same, at least for the past 30 years. It rides the good economy and bad economy,” he said.

Leitzel noted that it almost would be impossible to know exactly how many people frequent the market, which is open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., each week. But those who are selling goods say it can be hectic during business hours.

“It can get extremely busy,” noted Heather Schmit, one of the vendors at the market.

While many said they enjoy the freshness of the food items, Leitzel added that since the market’s been around for so long it has become a place where many just want to visit.

Schmit noted that its environment also plays a part in its appeal.

“It has a certain feeling. Everyone is friendly,” she said. “There’s something about it. It has a really cool atmosphere.”