More than 200,000 folks visited Chattanooga Market during its 2017 season, according to Brandy Ridge, the market's accounting manager.
That's evidence of what the U.S. Department of Agriculture found after a survey on the popularity of farmers markets across the country: As of 2014, there were more than 8,260 markets in its National Farmers Market Directory, an increase of 76 percent from 2008.
Reasons for market growth are attributed to several factors. First, buying fresh allows shoppers to taste the real flavor of fruits and vegetables; there's no long-distance shipping or gassing to simulate ripening. Second, markets connect shoppers with growing seasons in their region. Third, shoppers discover new varieties of produce they might not find in groceries, plus they know where their food has come from.
And markets build a sense of community while supporting family farmers. Markets have become more than just a collection of produce stalls; they are places to meet up with friends, attend community events, support nonprofit fundraisers or just a good place to enjoy people-watching.
Lori Carter is a farmer who started Lookout Farmers Market five years ago on Lookout Mountain. Now she operates three markets in Red Bank, East Brainerd and inside CHI Memorial Hospital. She's found that sense of community "where people support and celebrate one another" survived two of her markets' location changes. Shoppers have followed her to the new locations.
Community events will be part of the draw for market celebrations of Father's Day on Sunday, June 17.
Chattanooga Market will host its annual Father's Day Bacon, Blues and Brews event at First Tennessee Pavilion. Market organizers say they have increased beer selections for this day. A dozen food trucks will be on-site to offer favorites; for instance, Jade Lockhart's "Nasty Larry" — huge, grilled-on-the-spot burgers topped with bacon, pimento cheese and other choice ingredients.
Local craftspeople will bring an assortment of Father's Day gifts to the pavilion, such as themed ties and bow ties from Fitted Stitches or marinades from Hoff & Pepper.
Dads will be entertained with music by Rick Rushing and the Blues Strangers from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
On Friday, June 15, Lou Wamp and the Bluetastics will entertain visitors to Cambridge Square Market.
Catoosa Farmers Market in Ringgold, Georgia, will celebrate dads on Saturday, June 16, by giving away a $25 Ace Hardware gift card, a premium car wash from Pals' Car Wash and a $15 Home Plate gift card.
It's easy to enter: Just find the Catoosa Farmers Market table at the market and sign up.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.
BATTLEFIELD FARMERS MARKET — Agricultural building at Walker County Civic Center, 10052 Highway 27, Rock Spring, Georgia. 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays through November. 706-638-7366.
BRAINERD FARMERS MARKET — Grace Episcopal Church, corner of Belvoir Avenue and Brainerd Road. 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays to October. 423-698-0330.
CAMBRIDGE SQUARE — Cambridge Square, intersection of Lee Highway and Ooltewah-Georgetown Road. 6-9 p.m. Fridays. www.publicmarkets.us/chattanooga.
CATOOSA FARMERS MARKET — Northwest Georgia Amphitheatre, 220 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, Georgia. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. 706-891-4199.
CHATTANOOGA MARKET — First Tennessee Pavilion, 1826 Carter St. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays through November. 423-648-2496. www.publicmarkets.us/chattanooga.
CHATTANOOGA MARKET AT ERLANGER — Inside Erlanger Medical Mall, 975 E. Third St. 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Fridays year-round. www.publicmarkets.us/chattanooga.
CHATTANOOGA RIVER MARKET — Tennessee Aquarium plaza, 1 Broad St. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. www.publicmarkets.us/chattanooga
CHI MEMORIAL HOSPITAL — 2525 de Sales Ave. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays year-round. 423-838-9804.
COLLEGEDALE MARKET — Collegedale Commons, 4950 Swinyar Drive. 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays. 423-648-2496.
DAYTON FARMERS MARKET — Washington Street behind Dayton Chamber of Commerce building. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. 423-775-1817.
EAST BRAINERD — Christ United Methodist Church, 8645 East Brainerd Road. 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays through October. 423-838-9804.
MAIN STREET MARKET — Corner of Main and Chestnut streets. 4-6 p.m. Wednesdays through November. During December and February, market is open from 4 to 5 p.m. mainstfarmersmarket.com
MARION COUNTY FARMERS MARKET — 255 Turner St., Jasper, Tennessee. 8 a.m.-noon Thursdays and Saturdays or until sold out; 2-5 p.m. Fridays (all times Central). 423-942-2656.
MARKET AT THE MILL — Old Woolen Mill, 445 Church St., Cleveland, Tennessee, 3-6 p.m. Thursdays. www.mainstreetcleveland.com
OOLTEWAH FARMERS MARKET — Ooltewah Nursery & Landscape Co., 5829 Main St. in Ooltewah. No wholesalers or resellers allowed. 3-6 p.m. Thursdays through October; 3-5 p.m. November to May. 423-238-9775.
RED BANK FARMERS MARKET — Kids Corner Park, 3817 Redding Road. 4-7 p.m. Mondays through October. 423-838-9804.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN FARMERS MARKET — Pruett's Market parking lot, 1210 Taft Highway. 4-6 p.m. Thursdays. 423-902-8028.
SODDY-DAISY FARMERS MARKET — Poe's Tavern Historical Park by Soddy-Daisy City Hall, 9835 Dayton Pike. 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays. 423-332-5323.
ST. ALBANS HIXSON MARKET — St. Alban's Church, 7514 Hixson Pike. 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays through October. 423-842-1342.