The Eldon Farmers Market has plenty of room to grow at its new, larger location next to Lakeview Auto Sales on Business 54 across from the airport.
The market's opening day Saturday already featured a dozen vendors, where last year's market stagnated around two or three throughout the summer, according to Chuck Vernon, the farmers market's board president.
Vendors opened the season offering flowers, plants, fresh eggs and pork, homemade goods and decor, as well as a limited amount of produce. Since the late spring has delayed this year's garden, produce offerings will expand in the coming weeks. The farmers market also joined forces with the Eldon Flea Market last summer, adding even more variety to the types of goods available.
While this Saturday offered a "soft opening" for the market, a grand opening is set for May 31 and will include even more vendors along with family entertainment to kick off the summer.
"We're going to try to have more activities for families to come out," Vernon said, noting more family and children's activities are in the works for the summer months.
The Eldon Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through October and is always looking for more vendors to set up booths for free.
"The more we have, the more people will come," Vernon said.
The Lake Area also hosts three other community farmers markets. One of the oldest is the Camdenton Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday in May through September in front of the Camden County Courthouse on the square in downtown Camdenton.
Founded in 1985, the Camdenton Farmers Market's mission is to provide fresh, wholesome, home grown food and goods to the area's residents and visitors at a reasonable price; they also provide advice to interested patrons. Several vendors, including some who are master gardeners and master naturalists, offer fresh produce in season, value-added foods such as jelly, baked goods and a variety of country-oriented crafts. The Farmers Alliance of Rural Missouri (FARM), a Missouri non-profit organization, sponsors the Camdenton Farmers Market.
On Saturday, the Camdenton Farmers Market held its second 2014 event featuring a variety of vendors including some newcomers offering up tomato and pepper plants, as well as returnees such as sister vendors, fabric extraordinaire Judy McAllister and artist Joanie Greaney, and Tasty Aroma's Coffee Roasters.
Two additional community farmers markets are one in Versailles and one in Osage Beach. The Versailles Farmers Market is held from 4-8 p.m. every Friday evening through Sept. 26 in the Wright Printing parking lot at 13314 Highway 52 in Versailles. The Osage Beach Farmers Market is held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday through September in the Stone Crest Mall parking lot in Osage Beach.
Both farmers markets feature a variety of products and goods from local farmers and vendors including handmade crafts, locally grown fresh produce and house wares.
Samantha Edmondson contributed to this article.