The South Durham Famers’ Market has a barn-good time

(Staff photo by Ellen Kehres/UNC)

The South Durham Farmers’ Market is hosting their second annual barn dance fundraiser this Saturday. The fundraiser promises to bring an energetic mix of live bluegrass music, picnic-style barbecue, homemade desserts and a silent auction.

The market is located in the Greenwood Commons Shopping Center. The barn dance will help raise money to repair and replace tents and provide benefits for market managers.

Hannah Hiles, the vice president of the farmers’ market says that she loved how many people wanted to be involved with the inaugural dance last year.

“We had around 325 people attend last year’s dance, which I think was a little startling for all of us,” Hiles said. “I know for me personally—I was just blown away.”

The annual fundraiser will be held again at Sassafras Fork Farm in Rougemont, NC. Hiles said that the committee knew that the farm venue would make the perfect location for the dance.

“Every bit of that big barn just sings “celebration,” she said. “The fact that it was the home of one of our own well-loved vendors didn’t hurt things, either. This market is all about community, so choosing a venue that was also a place where our community members buy their weekly groceries from seemed very appropriate to us.”

(Staff photo by Ellen Kehres/UNC)

Co-owner of Sassafras Fork Farm, Stephanie Hall is head of the fundraising committee and a contributing member of the farmers’ market community. Hall says that she has really enjoyed seeing the market grow and being able to be a part of that growth since the markets’ conception.

“It’s the only farmers market that we go to and every year it has grown, so it has really been a foundation of our farm’s growth,” Hall said. “We feel it’s really important to give back and continue to help grow it in the south Durham community.”

Hall says that she was amazed by the expansive mix of people and sense of community that the dance fostered.

“Music and dancing, especially dancing that’s accessible to everyone, it just brings this whole diverse group of people together that might not ever share a space,” Hall said. “It’s just pretty amazing how it brings people together in a really fun way. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.”

Last year, the dance raised $3,000 for the SDFM. This year, Hiles says she hopes to see the dance raise $5,000. She expects to see some of this money come from the silent auction.

Each ticket to the dance runs $50—half of which goes toward putting on the event. The other half will go straight to the operating fund for the market, which acts as the “day-to-day expense fund,” Hiles said.

Hiles said that the involvement of the community is really what makes the fundraiser a success. A lot of SDFM regulars are donating their time and culinary talents to the barn dance.

“All of them have really stepped up to the plate and are donating not only their time to the evening of the barn dance, but to making yummy treats for the dessert bar, too—several are even donating to our silent auction that evening.”

Some of these members are also part of the Community Cooking Club. Hiles says that this group consists of volunteers and a few board members who do delicious and creative demos at the market on the occasional Saturday.

Christine Ross is one of these cooking club and board members. Ross helped coordinate the dessert bar for the barn dance last year, and will be doing the same this year.

For Ross, being part of the cooking club and helping out on the board is all about building the community.

“Volunteers help run so many aspects of the market,” Ross said. “Without community support, the market would not exist and we would not be able to organize events like the barn dance fundraiser. The barn dance was a blast last year and we are hoping for the same this time.”

Ross will be bringing gluten free and vegan treats to the barn dance, such as pumpkin bars and ginger cookies, to help make sure there is something available for everyone in attendance.

Hiles says that many of the other board members will also be pitching in and bringing dessert. As for her—Hiles will be bringing her oatmeal cream pies.