It was a cold and drizzly day five years ago when the first Kingsville Farmers Market was held at the Downtown Pavilion on N. Sixth Street. Even with less-than-ideal conditions, an estimated 400 to 500 people braved the rainy weather to see what the new venture was all about.
“We were worried about that first market,” Charlie Simons, manager of the Kingsville Farmers Market, said. “We were sweating it going in, but it worked out great and we had a huge turnout on a very cold, wet day.”
Last Saturday, the weather was much more favorable as seasoned regulars and first-timers alike shopped for homegrown, homemade and handcrafted goods, crafts and wares on sale from more than dozens of area vendors celebrating the fifth anniversary of the monthly farmers market.
“It’s very satisfying to have sustained a long and loyal following for the market,” Simons said. “The community has been fantastic, as have the vendors and the City of Kingsville.”
Simons said a big part of the market’s success has been in having a diverse group of vendors who bring a variety of quality goods consistently every month.
“We still get about 35 to 40 vendors every month,” he said. “And the public keeps coming back for more.”
Homer Garza is one such vendor who has participated in the farmers market since day one. Known by the moniker “The Bee Man,” the Riviera native sells locally sourced honey by the jar.
“It’s a good deal here and I interact with a lot of people,” Garza said. “I’ve been here every month since the beginning. Sometimes I sell out quick, sometimes I don’t sell out at all, but it’s always a good time out here.”
Garza said he has his regular customers who will seek him out every month for their “honey fix.”
“They’ll call me to find out if I’m coming out, too,” he said.
Other longtime vendors for the Kingsville Farmers Market include Tony and Suzanne Piccola, a San Diego couple who offer vegetables grown from their organic garden under the name P2 Organics, and Charlotte Wymore with her homemade jams and craft projects made from blue jeans.
“We started here about three months after the first one,” Tony Piccola said.
Suzanne Piccola said they had spent 30 years farming in Central Texas, selling their vegetables “at a large scale” to area farmers markets and to stores.
“But after so many years of not seeing family and friends, we decided it was time to retire,” she said. “But we’re still able to do this and sell the excess of what we don’t eat.”
Tony Piccola described the Kingsville Farmers Market as a “fun market,” where they can not only make some money but also make friends.
“Everybody here is real nice and friendly,” he said.
Suzanne Piccola said when they have carrots in stock, they are typically the first item that sells out, though she said “it can vary on whatever people’s tastes are that month.” Also popular are a selection of vegetable plants that customers can buy and plant in their own gardens.
“And we don’t need much, so we try to keep our prices down,” she said.
Wymore said while she doesn’t always attend the farmers market every month, she tries to make it out to as many as possible.
“It’s what keeps me young,” she said.
Wymore said throughout the year, she and her daughter, Barbie, travel around Texas to buy the fruit used in their homemade jams.
“We go to Fredericksburg to get peaches in July, we get strawberries in Poteet and in Montgomery my grandsons will help pick berries,” she said. “We go all over, and I process it and put it in the freezer. Then we can make jams all year long.”
While jams are her most popular ware, Wymore said she loves “tearing up blue jeans” to make decorative craft items that she also sells at the market.
“I used to do it at the seller’s market here in Kingsville probably in 1989,” she said. “Some people love my stuff, but it can be both good and bad (in sales). Either way, I enjoy it.”
Throughout Saturday morning, shoppers kept the pavilion packed as they browsed vendor tables for foods and items to purchase.
Joe Acuna brought his wife, Jesslyn, and 15-month-old son Elijah with him for their first time at the farmers market.
“We’d been wanting to come out for a while,” he said. “And today, I actually had time.”
Acuna said his family had planned to just “come out and do some sightseeing” at the market. However, within minutes their arrival, he was already speaking to a vendor about buying a piece of art constructed out of wood.
“It’s pretty remarkable seeing all of the local stuff that’s available in our area,” he said. “I like the products I’ve seen out here, and I’ll definitely be stopping by again to get some more’
Rick and Melissa Mooney said they always bring a list of items with them to the farmers market, through their first stop is always to get fresh vegetables.
“And cilantro sauce,” Rick Mooney said.
“We like the variety of items that are here,” Melissa Mooney said. “And we like talking to the people, too. It’s nice to see the community come together and share their crafts and food, the things that they make at home.”
Tricia Mooney said she has been shopping at the Kingsville Farmers Market ever since the first one held on that cold day in February 2015. She said she remembers bundling up “in sweats and a jacket.”
“It’s good weather today,” she said.
Mooney said the Kingsville Farmers Market has gotten “bigger and better” over time, and she will continue to support it for as long as it lasts.
“I love the farmers market,” she said. “And I’m glad people are out here supporting it. I mean, you’ve got to.”
The Kingsville Farmers Market is held on the fourth Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to noon at the Downtown Pavilion adjacent to the Xeriscape Garden on N. Sixth Street. For more information, visit “Kingsville Farmers Market” on Facebook.