Where would you go to be amazed by a beautiful, just-picked bounty of rare and favorite produce; to catch the aromas of freshly baked sweet treats and homemade goodness, or to be enchanted by cleverly-crafted handworks designed by a local artisan? These multiple flavors, savors and unique treasures brought to you by smiling vendors all await at Caldwell’s Border Queen Farm and Art Market.
“I thought having a farmer’s market would be a great idea because it could really serve everybody,” Leah Sommerhoss, inventor, founder and organizer of the new farmer’s market, said. “I’m kind of a black thumb; I can’t grow anything and so I thought the farmer’s market would be great for people like me who can’t grow it but can buy it, and it’s also awesome because it can help the ones who can grow plants really well and help them utilize that.”
Sommerhoss’s words seem to be right on cue. Although the farmer’s market has only been founded since May 27 of this year, local growers and buyers have seemed to flock to the town park to purchase and sell goods of shared homemade, high quality.
“It’s been going really well,” Kerry Cutler, one of the eight regular vendors at the market, said. “We had a line this morning that stretched to the sidewalk and are pretty well sold out [only an hour after the market opened].”
Many would say that Cutler’s stand that she shares with Tyson Webster has become an icon of sorts and one of the main attractions that brings customers to the farmer’s market. Bountiful vegetables from multiple favorite and rare varieties that Webster and Cutler grow line the produce table, while Cutler’s homemade pasta that she also shares has become a cherished delicacy customers literally race to the market to get their hands on. “I always try to be one of the earlier ones so I can get here in time to buy her pasta,” One customer of the market said, “You just don’t know how others are going to be buying though. Sometimes you get some, sometimes you have to wait.”
Despite the waiting list that sometimes grows for Cutler’s remarkable pasta, the wait is well worth the reward according to the customer, as well as others.
“Her pasta is just so good,” Sommerhoss said. “She makes the different kinds all herself and the flavors are just amazing. I try to buy from her when I can, but the only problem is she usually runs out pretty fast.”
Cutler and Webster’s booth isn’t the only one that receives rave reviews and customer’s attention. A vast amount of homemade cinnamon rolls and baked goods are usually sold out quickly and brownies, cookies and snacks made by Kylee and Lexi Reilly are equally soon to be gone.
“We’re trying to save up and earn money for our family vacation to Branson,” Kylee said. “Our parents went there for their honeymoon years ago, but we’ve never been and so we’re really excited to go.”
The family vacation may be set for early August, but that hasn’t slowed the Reillys from their focused determination. According to a customer, five batches of brownies the girls had made sold out after the market had been opened an hour.
“We’ve only been selling for a couple weeks, but we’ve had a lot of customers so far.” Lexi said. “We make everything we sell besides the bread our mom helps with. It’s been a lot of fun making and then selling everything.”
Though it’s no secret that the market is an ideal spot to find the best in fresh produce and sweet treats, craft vendors are also a common sight that keeps items steadily stocked, catching customers’ attention.
“We didn’t want to limit people to bringing in just foods,” Sommerhaas explained. “So we called it a farmer and art market, and have seen some local artists come out to sell as well.”
One of the such craft-based market stands belongs to Paula Mortimer, Wellington local, artistic enthusiast, and owner of her own business, “Eat Your Heart Out Silver Smith Designs.”
At first glance, Mortimer’s stand may seem like any other refined jewelry and metallic finery booth—that is, until the customer realizes that each article was crafted from a form of silverware.
“I’ve worked with silver and metal work quite a bit, so working with silverware wasn’t really a challenge for me,” Mortimer said. “I began the business by just sharing and selling to friends and different people who would call and order, but I’ve started going to a lot of craft shows and the farmer’s market of Wellington and now here to sell some, and that’s been really fun and good for the business too.”
As successful as the Border Queen Farmer and Art Market has become and continues to grow, Sommerhoss said that she hopes its rising peak is yet to come.
“We really just want to try to turn the market into an event people can look forward to and a family event—a place where families can come out to have fun, get out of the house, and bring people to town,” Sommerhoss said.”We’re working on having kids’ events and activities every week so that kids can have fun while their parents shop, and we’re also looking at adding live music and more attractions like that hopefully sometime in the future.”
Thus far, Sommerhoss’ dream is becoming reality thanks to her hard work and the effort and support of the vendors and other helpful hands of the community.
Children’s activities have already been set in motion and have received enthusiasm and participation, though it is said there is still a lot of growth that is hoped to be seen for the market. Webster recommended several ideas to engage youth in the market including fixing and teaching how-to on bicycles and offering a massive mural board for free coloring. It seems that no matter one’s purpose, the Border Queen Farm and Art market truly has a homemade good for everybody. Whether you’re looking for a tasty treat, gift hunting, shopping local produce or looking for a fun time for kids, it seems those of Sumner County and surrounding areas need look no further than the Caldwell farmer’s market.