Market at odds with Fairfield County Council, admin over rental fees

WINNSBORO – Fairfield county council members heard from residents about increased concerns that the county might shut down the Farmers Market in downtown Winnsboro.

Jamie Vaine, who is the executive director of the 501(c)3 the market operates under and who represents the Fairfield Farmers and Artisans Market, said the county’s administration recently began charging the market $50 an hour to rent the building.  She said that high rent cost could eventually drive the market away.

“[$50 an hour] is an unreachable number for us,” Vaine said, explaining that the group is now having to look to the community for donations. “Local businesses have stepped up and helped us pay this rent because they know how important the market is to our vendors, shoppers and the downtown businesses.”

Valerie Clowney, a vendor at the market, also took exception with the high rent the county is charging the market. She asked for a meeting with council members to resolve the issue.

“What we have here is more political meandering, telling people they support the market, but at the same time allowing a ridiculously high rent to be charged on a building that has no air [conditioning] and can only be used as a market right now,” Clowney said.

Council Chairman Doug Pauley, who has been a proponent of charging the Farmer’s Market rent, assured the speakers that council members do support the market and said he would schedule a meeting with them.

“I don’t think anyone here is against the farmers market,” Pauley said. “We do think the farmers market is a great thing here in Fairfield County. Whatever we can do to support it and have discussions would be a great thing for us to do.”

At press time, Vaine said she has not heard from Pauley.

Since the first of the year, when the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce ceased its involvement with the market, the Ag+Art Farm Tour and the farm-to-table dinner, Vaine and Michelle Taylor have taken over management of the market, Ag & Art and the farm-to-table dinner.

To raise money to operate these events, Taylor and Vaine have organized a number of fundraisers including, monthly raffles and special end-of-month Tuesday market nights.

“We’re selling tickets for chicken bog meals to be picked up on Tuesday, Aug. 2 under the clock,” Vaine told The Voice. She and Taylor also have a raffle going that involves a $1 ticket purchase. 

“The $1 tickets will be on sale at the market every Saturday in July, from 9 a.m. til 12 p.m. for a chance to win $25 in market bucks that can be spent during any open market days,” Vaine said. “The drawing will be held the last Tuesday market day of the month.”

The market is located at 117 E. Washington Street in Winnsboro. For more information email: [email protected]

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