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For most Dentonites, the opening day of the annual Denton Community Market heralds the start of warmer weather.
For those new to the area or who have never been to the Market, Board President Dee Jackson says it has a little bit of everything.
“They will be able to find artisans, so we have a lot of vendors who make (things) like soap, jewelry, (and) crafts,” she details. “We have bakers (that) make bread. (And) we have farmers for fruit, vegetables, and meats.”
Jackson says what makes the Denton Community Market so unique is all vendors are required to make all of their products. “You have to handcraft all your products to even set up at our market,” she adds.
Vendors go through an application process to ensure they meet the Market’s standards. And each year, returning vendors also have to reapply.
So far, Jackson says 76 vendors are returning for the 2023 Market.
Jackson herself is a vendor at the Denton Community Market and this will be her seventh year participating. She makes vegan and holistic home bath and body products. “I make soaps, wax melts, candles, (and) body scrubs,” she says. “I make all kinds of items to help with your holistic skincare needs.”
Certified Farmers Program
In addition to the vendors selling crafts and other items, a big draw for the Denton Community Market are the local farms selling fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.
According to Jackson, when a farm wants to participate in the Market, they certify them to make sure they pass all of the Market’s qualifications.
“One of the qualifications is (they must be) within (a) 100-mile radius of the Market,” Jackson explains. “And we make sure that they grow it themselves, so no imported goods. That’s the best thing about it — that’s hard to find, so that’s truly unique.”
Additionally, all the farms at the Market are certified for the government subsidy programs SNAP and WIC.
“People in communities that are lower income, they are unable to get to a grocery store and they want stuff really fresh,” Jackson says. “They’re allowed to come up there and use their benefits.”
The Denton Community Market also offers some other programs for attendees.
For example, each Market features musical performances. “We have pretty much all (music) genres at the market,” Jackson says.
And this year, Jackson says they will have demo classes, such as cooking classes, as well as more children’s activities.
“We’re bringing a lot of things back that we did before COVID — we shut it down to be respectful of social distancing,” she explains. “Our goal is to bring all that back this year.”
As it takes a lot of manpower to make sure the Denton Community Market runs smoothly, Jackson says they are always in need of volunteers to help out.
She says they are in need of volunteers before the market opens to help set up tents and place markers to direct vendors where they need to be. “Sometimes we have volunteers come help vendors unload their cars and trucks so we can get set up,” she adds.
While the market is going, Jackson says they rely on volunteers to help run children’s games and check on vendors to make sure they’re doing well.
And when the market closes, volunteers are needed to help clean up and tear down.
“It is manual labor, but I think it’s a great way to give some time back,” Jackson says. “We take individuals and school groups as well. We actually had the UNT girls’ basketball team one time – they came out in the morning and they were helping set up and tear down tents. We’ve had some people come over from DATCU. They help people engage in games and make sure we’re okay. Just those little things go a long way.”
For those interested in volunteering, Jackson urges them to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Volunteer.”
Importance of Shopping Local
Jackson encourages all Dentonites to visit the Denton Community Market this year, which she says is a lot like a fun family gathering.
“Bring your family — make it like a fun-filled deal,” she continues. “Come out there, take a stroll, walk around, have fun. (You can) shop different vendors, eat, and get your weekly fruits and vegetables and your meat.”
And Jackson says spending dollars at the Denton Community Market helps support small businesses in the Denton community.
“You’re shopping local — you’re not shopping at a big chain business, so you might be paying somebody’s mortgage bill,” she explains. “You might be paying (for) a kid’s dance lesson (or) baseball lesson. You’re helping that family survive. And by going local, you’re actually able to talk to the maker so you can understand what’s in the product. How do they grow it? So it’s a little bit more intimate when you go shopping.”
The Denton Community Market begins its 2023 season on Saturday, April 1st, and will run every Saturday morning from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm through the last Saturday in November at the Historic Park of Denton County at 317 W Mulberry Street.