Hancock Co. Farmers Market struggles to bounce back

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County Farmer's Market is struggling to regain the popularity it once had. The old market was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The new market opened just a month and a half ago.

"At one time before Katrina, this was one huge market," said Vendor Gordon Coleman.

Coleman hopes to see the Hancock County Farmer's Market be that way again. But just a few weeks into operation the crowds both buyers and sellers are sparse.

"Customers or people who visit a market are very loyal. So eight years is a long time. They've built up relationships in other areas," said Christian Stephenson an Extension Agent for Mississippi State University.

The county rebuilt the pavilion market area bigger and better, making a $300,000 investment. But bringing back vendors and customers isn't easy. The market is now just open on Wednesdays.

"Some have moved to markets in other counties and, unfortunately, I'm sad to say some just have not been able to continue," said Stephenson.

"I would not want to leave an established market outside of this county to come back here and sit on Saturday for five hours and not see a customer. So they are working very hard to try and find a solution to this with no funding for advertising whatsoever," explained vendor Kathleen Johnson.

Stephenson told WLOX News, " I'm hoping in the very near future to start with one Saturday a month. And as soon as I get the vendors together to do that, we're going to do that."

But for now they will rely on word of mouth to spread the word the Hancock County Farmers Market is back. It's located on Longfellow Road and is open every Wednesday from 9am until 1pm.

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