Summer Market Season
Saturdays 7a - 12p
Tuesdays 4pm - 7pm
About Historic Downtown Farmers Market
The early history of the Hot Springs Farmers Market:
as told to Jeff Fields by Mary Jo Spurlin, wife of one of the original founders.
The market formed in the mid-1970s as a result of seed customers at Spurlin's Garden Center who decided they wanted to fellowship together and sell some of their produce to help augment their income. The market sprouted from an old train loading platform, long gone, behind William Brothers Feed on Broadway. For 50 cents per day, a farmer could hawk his produce until the cows came home, or until he sold out, whichever came first.
Co-founders Winford Spurlin and Lynn Newton developed principles for the market that are still followed by farmers markets across the country, including the idea that only homegrown produce should be sold. From its inception, the market averaged 25 to 30 farmers per Saturday, and 15 to 20 on Tuesdays. The farmers would arrive around 7 a.m. and stay until around 11 a.m., or until the produce sold out. There was an unwritten agreement that the farmers would not undersell each other until the end of the day, at which time they reduced their prices drastically to avoid carrying produce home.
Most of the farmers were very loyal, including two peas in a pod, Vernal and Grady Pitts, since deceased, who raised produce specifically for the market from their farm on Golf Links Road. After a few ripe seasons, the farmers, most of them getting on in years, decided that their harvest was nearing an end, putting the market out to pasture until its revival in the mid-nineties.
The Modern-Day Market
Founded in 1995 at a location near the Transportation Depot at the intersection of Broadway and Orange Streets, the Historic Downtown Farmers Market has become a mainstay for many Hot Springs natives and a special attraction for the many visitors of the area. In 2006, Hot Springs was the recipient of a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Grant which began the planning of a permanent, open-air pavilion as a home for the Market. After the receipt of a $350,000 grant from the State of Arkansas and more than $20,000 of additional donations, the City of Hot Springs and Friends of the Farmers Market broke ground on their current pavilion in March of 2009. In May, 2010, the market opened its permanent open-air pavilion located at 121 Orange Street, and has since become a leading Farmers Market, receiving a great deal of state and national recognition. With contributions like landscaping by the Garland County Master Gardeners and a state of the art Cairn Fountain designed by Bennett Brothers Stone, the market facility is a truly special place in Hot Springs.
The market has become a front porch of sorts for many Hot Springs residents and visitors who gather, visit, sip coffee, and savor the live local music on Saturday mornings in addition to doing their weekly produce shopping. Special Events such as Shop with the Chef, The Health and Wellness Day, eDay, and a Day at the Farm feature children's activities, nutrition information and additional educational opportunities for the public. Local musicians, dancers and performers generously share their talents at the market, giving it a festival atmosphere. Thanks to many willing partners and sponsors, the market is able to host a variety of educational and entertaining events.
The market operates year round, with a Main Market season (May through October) on Saturday mornings, 7a until noon and Tuesday evenings or until produce runs out. The Winter Market (November through April), while smaller, operates on Saturday mornings, 9a until noon. Plenty of free parking is available at both the North and South entrances of the Market.
During the market, customers form close relationships with the farmers who have grown their food. With the local food and organic food movements growing, the Farmers Market has gained even more popularity as a place to purchase high quality, home-grown produce from people they know and farms they visit. The Market also offers fresh herbs, plants, flowers, eggs, meat products, fresh-baked breads and desserts, local honey, jams, jellies, spreads and so much more!
On the last Saturday each month, during the Main Market Season, we invite the community's youth to set up a booth. This allows our youth to sell their own handmade, homemade, and homegrown items alongside the regular vendors to gain experience and be mentored by our valued Farmers & Artisans. There is never a charge for these Youth Market Days, we only ask that you register so we can greet you upon your arrival.
The Market also participates in the SNAP program, operated by the State of Arkansas Department of Human Services (ARDHS) and overseen by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is beneficial to the participating families, farmers, and community.