Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market to celebrate 40 years

With fewer customers in the winter, Mary Beth Sink has more time to chat with her friends. (Charlie Buchanan/Journal)

With fewer customers in the winter, Mary Beth Sink has more time to chat with her friends. (Charlie Buchanan/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Every Saturday for the last 40 years, people have come to the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market to sell and buy fresh produce.

And this Saturday, the market will celebrate its history. During those 40 years, its popularity has ebbed and flowed. These days, the market is enjoying an upswing.

“It has been a mainstay in our community and it’s been well-rooted,” said Amy Garland, a spokeswoman for the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market.

The market is holding a free 40 th anniversary party Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a number of live music acts, including Suitcase, and such activities for children as face painting. A food truck rally will be held at 11 a.m.

The Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market, considered the oldest in Forsyth County, moved to the fairgrounds in 1973 from its place near downtown Winston-Salem.

Tommy Dunning, a long-time vendor with the farmers market, remembers when the market was held under a two-story parking deck where the Bullard Fire Station on Marshall Street now stands.

“We sold underneath,” he said. “The cars parked on top.”

Dunning said the farmers market moved to the fairgrounds when the city tore down the parking deck to build the fire station.

“We used to sell so many beans and tomatoes to freeze and can,” said Dunning, who sells sausage and produce.

Jane Holder, who has been a vendor at the farmers market for 35 years, sells flowers and plants.

“It’s just been one very good market,” Holder said.

Years ago, people would sell a variety of produce, Holder said, but now they specialize.

Business did drop at the farmers market for a few years after the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market opened in Sandy Ridge, Holder and others said.

Meg Collins, the manager for the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market, said its popularity has been on the rise in the last three to four years.

“I have so many (vendors),” she said. “I have a waiting list.”

The number of vendors varies depending on the season, but it ranges between 50 and 75, Garland said.

North Carolina has 234 farmers markets, said Brian Long, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Garland said she loves the fact that there is a plethora of farmers markets in the area and around the state. But it is also important to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Dixie Classic Fair Farmers Market.

“It’s kind of a family tradition,” she said.

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