Producing Results: Helena Market Days kicks off season

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – Not long after the sun rose on Saturday, June 5 local residents started piling into the park around the Helena Amphitheater to browse through stands of produce, baked goods and other locally sourced treasures.

The kickoff for Helena Market Days came this year as a light at the end of a long tunnel of troubles from the past year. As the first sign of summer for many in the city Helena Market Days offers escape to those who want to bask in tradition.

Through COVID-19, tornadoes and the loss of loved ones the market was still able to maintain that same charm that people in the area have come to expect.

Incoming Market Days Chair Kim Ford said that she was nervous about what to expect with this year’s event. However, on opening day she said that the community showed up.

“It was outstanding,” Ford said. “I was so overwhelmed that everyone came and showed up. Event at 11:45 as we were getting ready to close I looked up and saw that people were still coming down the hill. It was incredible and I was so very grateful.”

Throughout the course of the day guests were treated to the offerings of more than 20 vendors, who set up their stands bright and early. They offered fresh produce like corn, peppers, potatoes and green beans.

There were also sweet treats including a multitude of fruits like peaches and plums, and baked goods like macarons and cookies.

Guests also had an opportunity to purchase gifts from local artisans such as handmade ceramic dinnerware and hand-crafted soaps.

The park was filled with the warm sounds of music being played by local musicians as guests browsed through the many different stands. The air felt alive, and seemed like the world that many knew prior the pandemic, aside from some of the obvious holdovers like sanitizer and masks.

“I have never seen the first market of the year be so popular like this,” Ford said. “The support we are receiving is just incredible.”

Organizers are planning for a seasons tacked with different themes, guests, events and demonstrations to draw crowds of people to come out.

At the next event on June 12, the market will honor Zulfi Merchant, a longtime volunteer who passed away last year due to complications from COVID-19.

“The Lifesaver Blood Bus will be there and we are asking people to come in and donate blood and platelets if they can,” Ford said. “To encourage people to do that we will give you a free T-shirt.”

Chef Chris Hastings, owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club, will be doing a cooking demonstration on this day as well.

At the June 19 event, the Black and Blueberry Festival will make its return. Ford said they would have a petting zoo on that date as well.

Helena Market Days is scheduled to continue offering a wide selection of locally sourced produce and goods every Saturday during the summer months.

More information about upcoming dates can be found on the Helena Market Days Facebook page.