Starkville residents can enjoy two outdoor events Saturday as the community market begins its summer season and the city’s arts council hosts a Main Street art walk.
Starkville Community Market, previously billed as the best of its kind in the state by Mississippi Magazine, will open its inaugural year at its new home at Fire Station No. Park at 7:30 a.m.
Sixteen vendors are expected at the event, and their offerings include an array of vegetables, herbs, breads and sweets, Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory said.
Vendor numbers are expected to increase later in the year as more farms begin harvesting crops, Gregory said.
The move from the market’s previous home at the intersection of Lampkin and Jackson streets to the Lampkin-Russell streets intersection gives the ever-expanding event more physical capacity and allows the Partnership to further invest in its operation with grant funding.
Attendees can park at various businesses along Lampkin, Montgomery and Russell streets, while pedestrians can utilize sidewalk connections from those same areas and University Drive.
Organizers will dedicate the market’s new home with a 7:30 a.m. ribbon cutting and a bell-ringing ceremony by Starkville Fire Department’s new leader, Chief Charles Yarbrough.
Chef Ty Thames, of Restaurant Tyler and Bin 612 fame, will demonstrate pickling and preserving techniques at 9 a.m., while the Cedar Creek Ramblers, a local bluegrass group, will provide entertainment.
The Art Walk on Main, hosted by the Starkville Area Arts Council, will feature a variety of mediums from more than 20 local artists on display, including paintings, drawings, pottery and wood carvings.
It is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Participating businesses include 929 Coffee Bar, Aspen Bay, the Book Mart, Fleur de Lis, Flipside, LA Green, Montgomery’s Jewelry, Occasions, Pita Pit, Polka Tots, R. Tabb & Co., Style Revel, Sullivan’s Office Supply and the Sundial.
Chamber membership hits milestone
Partnership officials also celebrated a milestone with its chamber of commerce Thursday: The organization eclipsed 500 members earlier this year.
The Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce’s membership is now at 513, said Heath Barret, the Partnership’s director of membership development.
When he took over the role in 2013, the number was at approximately 400.
Partnership officials previously identified increasing chamber membership to 500 as a strategic goal. Increased membership and steady retention are both indicators of the local economy’s health and willingness to reinvest in itself.
“I’m not taking the credit for this – it’s a complete Partnership effort,” Barret said. “I think businesses see the value of being a member, and I hope more are willing to join in the future.”
Annual dues are based on the size of a company. For example, a business with fewer than 10 employees pays about $200 each year, Barret said.
Besides funding numerous programs and advertising initiatives, dues also pay for Mississippi State University student-led business studies for participating organizations, he said.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch