Driving a couple of miles — or even better, just walking a few blocks — to shop among and from friends and neighbors feels good and does good, locally. Two rural communities hosted outdoor markets Saturday — Vinton and DeQuincy.
In Vinton, elementary and middle school students who completed an entrepreneur workshop sold clay earrings, baked goods, do-it-yourself bracelet kits and dog scarves on one side of a downtown lot, while retailers and veteran vendors hawked wares on the other side.
Isabella Dommert sold cookies and fudge.
“I’ve been baking since I was 1,” said sixth-grader Dommert. “Well, I’ve been in the kitchen since that age helping my nana. My mom helped me price everything.”
Jessica Heard was pushing fitness with a clever design, Christmas packages with the sign, “How Many Can You Lift?” She was at the Vinton Small Town Market to get the word out about the new Ward 6 Rec Center where memberships are $15 per month and $10 for seniors.
“We offer yoga classes in addition to the fitness equipment,” she said, “but we’re looking for more teachers and recruiting for our basketball league.”
Next door was the kind of store only found in rural communities, trending felt fedoras for women on one shelf, bait and plumbing fittings on another. Cajun music drifted from an old-fashioned men’s barbershop. Less than a block away, a peacock strutted along the street.
Amanda Stutes, spokesperson for the city, said Vinton’s Small Town Market will be held one Saturday of each quarter and paired with a town celebration. The next is scheduled for April.
The DeQuincy Farmer’s Market was part of the DeQuincy Chamber of Commerce’s holiday celebration, “A Salute to Our Troops.” Events of the day included a parade, the market and fireworks.
This is the third open market/festival of its kind to be held this year at the DeQuincy Railroad Museum. Seventy-five vendors offered everything from blessing beads to baked bread, duck calls to rifle raffle.
The temperature was in the 70s, yet The Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and Cleco made it possible for children to play in the snow.
Kelley Menou is the DeQuincy market/festival organizer. She and friend Lexie Shelton talked about the concept when Shelton approached Menou to design a logo for her business, Figs and Feathers Acres. Shelton is an engineer. Making and selling jellies and hot sauces is her creative outlet.
“I didn’t move on the idea right away,” Menou said. “When I was on maternity leave, I figured out how to get it started.”
Menou said the purpose is to create community. The quality of the goods, the big buying crowd, keeping money local, providing a venue for craftspeople and growers to sell their goods and hearing the latest news in person rather than on a social media sites are byproducts.
“I want DeQuincy to thrive,” she said. “We’ve put down roots here and I want to be able to bring my girls to great local community events, in addition to the amazing Louisiana Railroad Festival hosted here every year in April.”
Vendors have to grow or make the majority of the items in their booths.
“Many of these vendors don’t have traditional storefronts,” she said. “This is how they sell their goods. We have loads of local talent here.”
Cooper Hill Farms brought mustard and collard greens, kale, sweet potatoes and honey. Cher LaRoque has always loved to craft, but the market gave her the first opportunity she’s had to sell what she makes. Board and Bread is a DeQuincy husband and wife team. She sells “hand-crafted, self-rising” breads. He turns beautiful bowls. First Baptist Church was selling items to benefit the Whisper of Hope program for teenage girls fleeing their villages to avoid arranged marriages. Daniel Cox generally makes pumpkin rolls during the holidays. He has sold one or two, nothing like the business he was doing at the market.
“I’m making a little extra to buy the kids’ Christmas presents,” he said.
The Mac Box was back at the DeQuincy December market after selling out of macaroons at the October market.
“We brought 800 and sold the last one at 11:03,” she said.
The market was from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Monday and Friday, she baked 1,800 for the Saturday market.
“It’s a baking record,” she said.
“Times have been so restricting,” said Jeffra Wise DeViney, Rotary Club president. “This is more than a merchandising concept. We needed this outlet, a place for families to bring the children, this departure from the cancel culture.”