Photo: The Bridge City Farmers Market, open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturdays at Bridge City Park, offering fresh produce and homemade crafts and sweets, has been a welcome addition.

By Dave Rogers

For The Record

The people of Bridge City love fresh produce, proving it last Saturday when a steady flow of customers ignored early morning thunderstorms and showed up to shop at the new Bridge City Farmers Market.

“I had people come out in the rain with lightning popping everywhere,” Marian Pepper, the organizer of the weekly market said.

“These people are diehards. They want their vegetables.”

Pepper wasn’t surprised. Some quick research had told her so.

“The community wanted it,” she said when asked why she decided to organize a farmers market in her hometown.

“I have a small little farm that I do. People ask me if I sell my stuff. I don’t grow enough for that, but I’m thinking, there has to be other people like me out there that grow.

“I said, ‘Let’s ask on Facebook if anyone might be interested in having a farmers market and if there would be any vendors interested in participating.’

“It kind of blew up. It took off and this is where we’re at.”

It’s at Bridge City Park on West Roundbunch Road, between the Water Park and Little League diamonds, from 8 a.m. through 11 a.m. each Saturday during the summer.

“We’re doing it for the summer months, as long as we have stuff to sell,” Pepper said. “During the summer, gardens tend to slack off.

“I’m looking forward to the fall harvest. It should be really great.”

Joyce Simon of Evadale, who filled a large table with jars from her Joyce’s Jellies and More, is already impressed.

“I’ve been doing this for two years now, and mainly, I do a lot of festivals,” the merchant said. “I’ve been praying that there would be a place to go [sell] on Saturdays.”

Just two Saturdays after she first posted the idea on Facebook, Pepper’s dream became a reality.

“The first day I posted that we should have one on Facebook, that night and the next day, it blew up and kept growing,” Pepper said.

“Several people from the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce told me to go to the city council meeting the next Tuesday and bring it up in front of them.

“I did that, they said, ‘Fine,’ and gave us use of that area, over by the Little League park. That Saturday, we had a vendor’s meeting. A few people showed up. And the next Saturday, we began.”

Opening morning of the Bridge City Farmers Market June 16 featured at least 15 different vendors selling their home-made produce and knick-knacks.

“The vendors are awesome,” Pepper said. “They were very, very pleased with the turnout and they’re coming back.

“More and more people are calling wanting to be a part of it.”

Pepper said she just wants the Farmers Market to provide a service for folks in Bridge City and neighboring areas.

“One of the main reasons I’m doing it, is to give everybody an opportunity to make little money selling their stuff. If they have more than what they’re going to use, let them sell it,” she said.

“It benefits everybody.

“We’ll take all the vendors we can get as long as they fit the criteria.”

Pepper says the No. 1 rule is that goods for sale should be made by the people selling them.

“Most of them are local or used to live here,” she said of the merchants who are already on-board.

“We also get some out-of-town people. If you have handmade soap or woodcraft, other things than just produce. Like honey and jellies and stuff like that.

“But people make it. It’s not something you go buy at the store and then come back and resell it.”

Pepper’s vision for the Bridge City Farmers Market is crystal clear.

“No resale,” she said. “I’m not turning it into a flea market. I don’t want somebody bringing their furniture out there and selling it like a garage sale.

“Maybe someday somebody can open up with a flea market. Right now, a farmers market is good enough.”