By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
A little more than a year ago, members of the Meridian Main Street were sitting around brainstorming on how to improve on an already successful farmer's market that gathered each weekend on Front Street at Singing Brakeman Park.
During the conversation, ideas passed back and forth. Suggestions were discussed and either filed away for future consideration or dropped altogether. What did come out of the imagination of those involved became known last spring as the Earth's Bounty Festival.
"We didn't know if it would be successful or not but I can remember standing there at the park underneath the 18th Street overpass and watching as cars began showing up, one after another, jockeying for parking places," said Maureen Lofton, the chairperson for The Earth's Bounty Festival. "We knew then we had hit on something special."
During a news conference Wednesday at the Greater Meridian Health Clinic located on Davis Street, Lofton, Meridian Main Street executive director John McClure and GMHC executive director Wilbert Jones, announced the 2013 schedule for The Earth's Bounty Festival. On the first Saturday of each month beginning in April, Singing Brakeman Park will host the event that is growing into a healthy lifestyle bonanza. Jones announced that GMHC would be the presenting sponsor of the events in hopes of promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle.
"Our vision has always been, and with the partnership with The Earth's Bounty Festival, continue to be the promotion of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle for everyone," said Jones. "We are so excited to be a part of this."
As part of the joint effort, Jones said GMHC will offer a variety of health screenings at each of the seven festivals this year.
McClure said the partnership with GMHC “underscores the mission of Earth’s Bounty. Our goal is local, fresher, better, and we bring to the people of our area wonderful fruits and vegetables, plus fresh, homemade products ranging from jams and jellies to salsa and baked goods.”
The 2013 edition of Earth’s Bounty will be held on the first Saturday of each month, beginning on April 6. The other festivals will be held on May 4, June 1, July 6, August 3, September 7 and October 5. All festivals will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Singing Brakeman Park, adjacent to Union Station in downtown Meridian.
In addition to promoting good, healthy diets, McClure said more than $100,000 in commerce was generated last year, boosting the economy of downtown and the entire community. He said an average attendance of nearly 1,000 people came to the festivals, with the biggest crowd estimated at between 1,500 to 2,000, people recorded in November.
Earth’s Bounty is a Certified Farmers Market by the Mississippi Department of
Agriculture and Commerce.
"This is a unique experience that is growing and we want to urge everyone to come down, see some great products and bring the kids because we will have something for everyone," said Lofton.