Makers, bakers, growers - and tractor parade! DeFuniak Springs market returns on Main Street

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Move over, Mardi Gras floats. A tractor parade is coming through, signaling the kick off of this year's farmers market season. 

Main Street DeFuniak Springs will mark the season with the opening of the farmers market downtown on Baldwin Avenue at 8 a.m. March 19. At 10 a.m., a tractor parade will makes its way down the street. The market closes at 12 p.m. noon. 

"It's an open-air market. We want people to grab a cup of coffee and explore the farmers market and the businesses on downtown," said Chelsea Blaich, Executive Director for Main Street Defuniak Springs. She noted the idea for the tractor parade came from an objective to emphasize the vitality of the area's agricultural industry. 

"Knowing that the farmers market is primarily focused on local agriculture, I thought 'what do you need to have local agriculture' – a tractor," she said. "It's a way to pay homage to the agricultural industry that surrounds DeFuniak."

The tractors featured in the parade will be older ones that have been diligently restored, something Blaich considers a labor of love and a nod to the former days when people used their hands to carry out labor intensive agricultural projects and developments. 

Two Farmers Market vendors stand behind their booth during one of the recent market events on Baldwin Avenue in DeFuniak Springs.

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The farmers market will be held 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. noon every Saturday. The market has shifted to a new location - one block west - on Baldwin Avenue, now between S. Eighth Street and S. Ninth Street. Market goers will be able to stroll downtown and peruse shops at the Main Street District while visiting the goods from makers, bakers, and growers market vendors.

Blaich said the move is a temporary one, as the city and Main Street DeFuniak Springs work together to construct a permanent structure at the former location. She also mentioned, this year's location will serve another purpose.

It's "an effort to expand the event and get people to explore the district a little more," Blaich said. "Local businesses downtown see a benefit with the farmers market, and all of the events that we do there, because it attracts a group that might not have otherwise known about downtown Defuniak."

She noted parking conflicts will be unlikely because several businesses are closed on Saturdays. 

The tractor parade will travel along Baldwin Avenue at S. Fifth Street, near the Firestone Service Center. Then, it will snake west on Baldwin Avenue to the front of TechPlanet, Inc., where the rare-and-restored tractors will be parked on display until the market closes.

This is the second year of the downtown farmers market. Blaich said the tractor parade has been a draw in the past, and sure to be one this year as well. But, also people are attracted to the convenience of perusing goods by the dozens of local vendors that will be onsite. On average, there are about 30 vendors that attend the market.

The Main Street DeFuniak Springs Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays along Baldwin Avenue.

"At the end of the day, our goal is to help individuals discover or rediscover DeFuniak," Blaich concluded. "Individuals who stopped by years ago, we want them to come explore and see what DeFuniak has to offer" both in eco-tourism and quality of life.

The vendor application can be found at mainstreetdfs.org. For more information about Main Street DeFuniak Springs events, merchants, and development news, visit the website and follow @MainStreetDFS on Facebook and Instagram. To contact the organization directly, email info@mainstreetdfs.org or call 850-296-9051.