Food producers and artisans will showcase an array of products including plants, candies, meats, quilts, handmade pottery and custom jewelry at the Best of Missouri Market in St. Louis this weekend.
“Best of Missouri is a potpourri of what is available in Missouri,” said Nora Stern, who started the event 13 years ago.
This year’s event promises to offer more vendors and entertainment, she said.
Vendors attend by invitation only and come from towns such as Kansas City, Clarksville, Centralia, New Haven and Columbia.
“When we first started the Market, it was held for one day, had 35 to 40 vendors, and approximately 7,000 people attending,” Stern said. “Now it lasts for two days, showcases over 120 vendors, and attracts 18,000 to 20,000 people.”
The market also offers a variety of entertainment. Live musical performances and cooking demonstrations will be held.
There will be a Kids Corner where children can decorate a pumpkin, learn how to milk a cow, make jewelry, and decorate a hat. There will be a workshop where children can make a wooden craft to take home.
At this year’s event, there are six vendors attending from the Columbia-Jefferson City area: A Taste of the Kingdom, Goatsbeard Farm, Grand Valley Farms, Buck Creek Inc., Missouri Wildflowers Nursery and IHM Maple Syrup.
“For Missouri companies, it is the biggest marketing event of the year,” said Julie Price, co-owner of A Taste of the Kingdom along with her husband, Mark.
Price’s company wholesales its products to retail stores. In Columbia her natural, ready-to-serve products, such as pepper jellies and apple pie in a jar, are available at Hy-Vee, The Root Cellar, Hemingway’s and I B Nuts & Fruits Too.
“Since we are a wholesaler, the market is a good way to meet the public and test marketing new products,” she said.
Mervin Wallace, owner of Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, has attended every year.
“I have a lot of customers in the St. Louis area and this market is a good way to supply the customers,” he said.
Wallace, who sells native Missouri perennials, said his business appeals to people all around Missouri because he fills a niche market.
Many of the products found at this event are unique. “You’ll find things at Market you never imagined from the best selection of the top Missouri companies,” Price said.
Price’s company, for instance, takes pride in its win at the Missouri State Fair for the highest sales in Missouri packaged products for the third year in row. Yet the company remains different, using organic products from local family farmers.
Wallace’s nursery offers a plant, the Golden Currant, which was one of the plants Lewis and Clark carried on their exhibition in 1804. Attendees at this year’s event will be able to purchase the historical plant, which Wallace said “has extremely fragrant yellow flowers that bloom in the spring for six weeks.”
Wallace said the event is a good chance to “do some Christmas shopping.”