During the Oct. 18 meeting of the Dawsonville City Council, the mayor, council members and the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce recognized Amicalola Regional Agriculture Committee Chair Louise McPherson for excellence in her running of the Amicalola Regional Farmers Market.
Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Mandy Power presented McPherson with the chamber’s “Small Town Superstar” award, an honor the chamber gives to local people nominated by community members for doing a “stand-out job” at what they do.
“The definition of a super star is someone who exhibits an amplified individuality; there just seems to be more of him or her there,” Power said. “They know the value of sacrifice and hard work.”
Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason said he and the council are happy to have the farmers market as part of the city and to be able to provide citizens and growers with a place to network and to buy or sell local goods.
"It’s a really great facility that the tax dollars have provided through our SPLOST, but it’s also a networking that people do so you see the same people a lot,” Eason said.
At the meeting, McPherson presented the council with the end of the season report on how the Amicalola Regional Farmers Market did in 2021. According to McPherson, the farmers market is something that neighboring cities and counties said they are impressed by.
“It’s the best farmers market around and that’s what we’re hearing from other cities and counties,” McPherson said. “Our county agent says he’s getting calls from extension agents in other counties saying ‘Hey, how’d y’all do that? Our people are coming over and shopping over at your farmers market and coming back and saying how can we do that?’”
This year’s farmer’s market season began in April and ran every Saturday through Oct. 16 and stayed open on Wednesdays and Fridays during peak produce season.
When the market first opened this year, McPherson and other market volunteers counted around 200 visitors several Saturday mornings in a row, with a lot of repeat customers coming back every week. The popularity grew on social media as well, with 1800 followers on Facebook.
“We love having the market there; I appreciate the city residents using their SPLOST money for that cause it’s awesome,” McPherson said. “We do have a big following and we really hope to continue that; we want to keep up the same rules, so hopefully we can keep doing it and we appreciate the city’s support on that.”
The farmer’s market worked with about 40 local vendors this year, according to McPherson. To be a vendor, the applicants must be from Dawson County or one of its neighboring counties, making all of the wares at the market very localized.
“We’ve had at least 40 different vendors; some of those are just during peak produce season, but in the good season we keep that thing pretty full,” McPherson said. “When we first started Amicalola Regional Farmers Market five years ago, we decided we wanted this to be a local thing, It is the growers and producers in Dawson County and the counties that touch Dawson.”
Throughout the market season this year, vendors offered dozens of different local items for sale, including fresh produce, local honey, meat, dairy, baked goods and handmade crafts. The farmers market pavilion was also the host for the city’s Food Truck Friday events, which McPherson said was also beneficial to the market’s vendors.
“For Friday Food Truck nights that’s been a great place to have that and our vendors appreciate being included in that,” McPherson said. “Some of them are able to do Friday night and then come right back on Saturday morning.”
After her presentation and acceptance of the award from the Chamber of Commerce, McPherson said all of the market’s volunteers working together makes it truly special.
“It does take a village, and y’all are an awesome village to work with,” McPherson said.