Last weekend, I was feeling out of sorts for a Saturday. It was one of those weekends when the routine wasn't good enough, and everywhere I went, I felt like a cat at a dog's birthday party. Fear not; there is a solution in Kingsport, and if you're OK with a dance of metaphor, the solution is about as clear as a cat at a fish market - or, for this story - The Kingsport Farmers Market.
Did you know Kingsport's Farmers Market was recognized as the Best Farmers Market by Tennessee Magazine? There's a reason for that, too.
The Kingsport Farmers Market isn't just a place to grab some fresh produce; it's a place to meet your friends and neighbors. The sun is coming up. Some mornings are warmer than others, but you can always nurse a cup of coffee, bring the kids - have some fun, and kick off the weekend with a dose of the Kingsport Spirit.
Living in Kingsport has all the charm you can imagine in a small town. There's a distinct downtown village of small businesses, a circle of churches down Broad Street, and a train station at the other end. If you're a native visiting the Farmers Market, you're liable to run into someone you know. Better yet, you might meet someone new, and the stories continue. For me, the first thing that completely lifted my mood was 'The Corklickers."
These guys have been picking music in the mountains for decades. Rick Moore, their bass player, was an engineer working for a cell tower company and used to tell me about the antics of this cork-lickin' bluegrass band with a claw hammer banjo player out front and a fantastic fiddle player. Put that together with Mike Milhourn from Up Against The Wall Gallery, and the Kingsport Farmers Market has a pep band most every weekend.
My timing was perfect, too. Even David Pendleton, the local insurance agent, had some spoons with him on Saturday, and together, we enjoyed another "Mater Breakfast" at the Farmers Market. Cloggers from the Stateline Stompers made it all seem even more festive.
It wasn't long before the smell of sausage and many great camera moments caught my attention - like a bloodhound on a hot trail. There were fresh meats from local farms and produce so tempting that even the cucumbers were blushing. As I strolled around, I couldn't help but notice a lot of 4-legged pups treating the flower stalls like an all-you-can-sniff buffet. And then, there was coffee, served with all the warmth of a Saturday morning sunbeam – a lifeline for those who hadn't quite shaken off the weekend cobwebs.
In the summer, watermelons at the market are juicier than a gossip session at a hair salon on a rainy day. As for this time of the year, it was all about pumpkins. When I walked inside, the orange color overwhelmed me like a goldfish in a bowl of carrot soup while Rocky Top was on a loop. Seriously, it was all about the pumpkins as the Great Pumpkin Carving Contest was going on.
The kids were ecstatic and caught up in the spirit of Halloween on The orange-covered tables with Elmer's Glue, various construction papers, markers, crayons, and more joy than I'd seen in the past week.
The best pumpkins of the show were on display in the middle of the market. The judges were beginning to make their assessments from the creative baseball-eyed gourds to the elegant and detailed gothic perfection of a white skeleton and her pumpkin throne.
Yup. The Kingsport Farmers Market was the perfect pick-me-up on a Saturday morning, and there's a reason this market is so thriving. That starts with the people and ends with the people. The City of Kingsport staff is always available to help any vendor and or customer who ventures out to the market on Saturday mornings and Wednesdays, too.
As the holidays loom, the market will shut down by Thanksgiving for the winter, but I vowed to put it on my weekly calendar for the next season. Because, in Kingsport, no matter the weather, you could count on the warmth of the community, the infectious music of the Corklickers, and the delightful chaos of kids crafting pumpkins to chase away any blues.