By Randy Arrington
LURAY, June 17 — The brick walkway outside the Luray-Page County Visitors Center was alive with activity on Saturday as the first Daughter of the Stars Farmers Market cut the ribbon for its grand opening with 17 vendors outside the former train depot.
“It is so great to see a farmers market back in Luray,” Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer said during Saturday’s grand opening. “It’s been a five to six year absence, and I’m proud to say on behalf of the [Luray] Council that the Town of Luray is both a moral and financial supporter.”
Courtney Nelson of Shenandoah is the coordinator of the concept first brought to her by Shenandoah councilman Charlie Jenkins, who was looking for someone to coordinate a farmers market in town. So, despite already being busy pursuing a doctoral degree in occupational therapy from Mary Baldwin College, Nelson undertook the task of starting a non-profit organization.
“We’re really excited to be here in Luray,” Nelson said. “Like our mission states…we’re trying to build health and wellness in Page County.”
The Daughter of the Stars Farmers Market will come to the train depot in Luray the third Saturday of each month. The market will be featured at Shenandoah’s Big Gem Park on the first Saturday of each month. Both markets run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on their respective Saturdays through November.
“More food products will come on as they are grown,” Nelson said. “[Local producers] are already signed up” for future farmers markets in both Shenandoah and Luray.
Saturday’s market at the Visitors Center in Luray featured children’s activities, wood carvings, jewelry, local honey, succulents, baked goods, homemade jellies and jams, paintings and portraits, plants and flowers, information on gardening and community groups, and even bagged lunches for school-aged children provided through Page County Public Schools.
The local non-profit farmers markets are approved to accept SNAP benefits, but first they need to purchase a mobile register that will record digital point-of-sale purchases. In addition, the Virginia Fresh Match program will double the amount allowed with SNAP benefits if fresh produce is purchased at a farmers market.
The Daughter of the Stars Farmers Market is actually run by a three-member board consisting of Nelson (president), secretary Vanessa Kulick Price of Stanley and treasurer Denise Jenkins of Shenandoah. Delynda Hendricks was hired as the market manager and will be paid through funds donated by the Town of Luray and the Town of Shenandoah. Volunteers are being sought to help with set-up at the Luray site.
Visitors to the two markets may pick up punch cards for their return visits. Those with five punches get entered in a drawing to win a prize, and 10 punches earns a free T-shirt.
Live music is anticipated for most markets with vendors ranging from 13 to 17 in Shenandoah and maintaining about 17 in Luray.
Nelson proclaims the non-profit group will work hard to implement its mission statement of “promoting health and wellness in Page County through providing accessible outlets to food and educational opportunities.”
“Courtney, thanks for bringing your group here,” Mayor Dofflemyer said on Saturday, “and best wishes for much success.”
Check out the Daughter of the Stars Farmers Market Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DaughteroftheStarsFM/