Ask the CPA
Problem-filled Saturday demonstrates our market’s resiliency
Momma said there’d be days like this… When I woke up at 5:15 a.m. last Saturday morning I checked for last-minute messages from vendors and the weather. A storm was possible so I grabbed up my rain boots and an umbrella. I’ve worked many a soggy market, but this last weekend was, let’s hope, one of a kind.
The market was piecing together just wonderfully, the radar showed the storm may have broken where it would be passing around us, and I welcomed our newest vendor who was excited for his mozzarella stand’s first day. All was well… but.
At 8:40 a.m. the power cord to our card reader gave up the ghost. At 10 a.m. an inch-deep river began to pour across the pavilion’s south floor. At 10:25 a.m. I noticed huge plumes of smoke blowing across King Jack Park’s commons, it was coming from the amphitheater, I dialed the fire department. At 10:40 a.m. I was informed that our backup card reader was a fail. At 10:42 a.m. I spotted a small flame atop our market’s kitchen walk-in freezer and called to request the firefighters come across the park to handle a new situation. Lastly, the musician’s car wouldn’t start after close.
This is reminiscent of a famous children’s book staring a young man named Alexander. But folks, what I took away from this day was not terrible, horrible, no good, or very bad. It was a glistening example of this farmers market community I prattle on about every week.
You see, when the card reader went down one of our volunteers rushed to Walmart to see if the adapter we needed was in-store, of course, it was only available online. Another two volunteers jumped behind the desk to let me head to my house for an adapter that would fit and grab an undamaged power cord for the backup card reader. One of the volunteers had come to the market to just shop but recognized a need for help.
Later, when I was shutting off the power to our walk-in freezer due to the flame coming out of its rooftop compressor, I knew the market’s emergency plan needed to initiate.
Our kitchen master, Carletta Renteria, got here so fast and began helping me call cold storage and restaurant friends to find homes for all the frozen products we house for ranches, restaurants, food trucks, the parks department, and our Summer Kids Meals. If the unit couldn’t be repaired quickly we would have to move the thousands of pounds of food in the next eight hours before defrost occurred.
There was a point Saturday morning when I remember emerging from the kitchen in the line of firefighters and just taking a breath outside. The rain hit my cheeks and the sights I saw warmed my heart, putting aside the mounting anxiety. Gazing into the pavilion I saw three volunteers smiling and calmly explaining things to customers. To the south were children gleefully puddle stomping under the pavilion as parents shopped. To my left, I noticed Howard, of Kings Kettle Corn, bringing in a chest freezer, and soon another friend of the market arrived with a chest freezer in the back of his pick up. Parks Director Tom Reeder, got a stand-up freezer turned on and cooling for us even when it was his day off. We are a community, a gathering place, and together we are strong.
After market was packed in and locked up, I climbed to the roof to see what the Allied Refrigeration repairman was dealing with. Luckily the unit was fixable and by miracle, he had the needed parts on his truck. Carletta stayed until repairs were confirmed successful, and I moved on to join the market board of directors meeting in progress. Of all weekends, this was the date for the board’s annual “retreat.”
For the past three years, the Webb City Farmers Market board of directors has held an afternoon-long meeting to review and plan, and since there are snacks, we call it a retreat. Naturally, it all was happening in the aftermath of an unprecedented market. I gave a quick briefing of the morning’s happenings and then we dug our heels into the issues of our aging marketplace. Again, these people who share a love of the market blow me away. Their support, constructive concern, and attention to our mission are going to be the defining force to carry on this market. Next week I will reveal our theme for 2022 and what to expect.
Pressed-glass items, pecans and Misty Morning beef sticks are among the many items besides produce you’ll find Saturday at the market.
This upcoming Saturday, we expect to have idyllic fall weather, and since it’s the day before Halloween, costumes are welcome! Juniper Coffee Roastery will have hot coffee drinks to warm up your morning. Our farms will display tables full of tomatos, mushrooms, butternut squash, bok choy, fresh herbs, lettuce, and many other produce items that are all grown locally.
Along with produce, you’ll find honey, pumpkins, mums, all-natural meats, cracked pecans, frozen tamales, and Autumn inspired crafts. Jane’s Glass Art will have trinket plates, sun catchers, plant stakes, and other lovely items made from pressed glass. Rustic Woods will have seasonal decorations made from repurposed wood. Deb’s Cottage Creations has been busy sewing those useful hot bowl holders, hand towels, and other kitchen accessories.
We’ve also booked some great music. Dr. G and the Tall Man will play from 9-11 a.m. Baring any fires, floods, or other general catastrophes; I hope to request The Monster Mash and find an unsuspecting vendor or customer who can match my dancing skills. I assure you they are minimal.
We’ll see you Saturday… Thanks, everybody!