By Katie Bohannon, Staff Writer
The Downtown Gadsden Civic Center hosted Etowah County’s Third Annual Marigold Market on March 13, drawing vendors from near and far.
City of Gadsden Parks and Recreation Department Events Supervisor Janet Tarrance coordinated the event, hoping to sprinkle a bit of joy and luck on a cloudy day.
Marigold Market sprouted three years ago from local farmers markets and Turnip Tuesdays. At these events, community members gather to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and browse unique craft items like jewelry and artwork. While several local vendors travel to Birmingham or Tennessee for markets, Tarrance understood such an abundance of talent in Gadsden needed a home to flourish.
Following Mistletoe Market each December, Marigold Market grew from the seed Tarrance planted, providing a space for vendors to promote their businesses and customers to support local economic prosperity.
“[The Downtown Gadsden Civic Center] is a great facility,” said Tarrance. “This will be our first time to have it here. We outgrew the 5th Street Market, and with the pub crawl taking place downtown that wraps everything together. We’ve had a really big, really great turnout the last couple of years and [Marigold Market] is starting to grow.”
From arts and crafts to baked goods to boutiques, the Marigold Market featured 25 vendors at booths spread out throughout the civic center. With endless varieties to choose from, customers drifted from coffee stations to lemonade booths satisfying their cravings while unearthing hidden gems at each corner.
Amber Bennett represented Forgotten Ways Farm with a booth featuring goat milk soaps and lotions. The soaps offered customers several pleasant scents like Coconut Lime, Black Raspberry, Chocolate Orchid and Lavender. A Gadsden farm, Forgotten Ways provides raw goat milk, cheese, non-GMO eggs, pastured pork and chicken to accompany the plethora of lotions and soaps. Forgotten Ways Farm promotes a way of life considered lost but sacred, striving to deliver wholesome products and food to locals.
Jewelers like Kay Collier and Sherry Rylander manned booths, displaying their creations for visitors. Collier creates handmade wire woven jewelry, while Rylander focuses on unique and camo-bling jewelry. Both transformed hobbies into businesses, enjoying the interaction with people and fellow vendors at local markets.
Artist Pamela Ross featured a collection of fused glass pieces at Marigold Market, offering customers a vast spectrum of colors, styles and patterns. Ross became interested in fused glass after she attended a class with her friend and discovered a medium she enjoyed straightaway. Though fused glass artwork is generally expensive to purchase the materials and kiln, Ross proves that the end result is worth the challenge.
“It’s not always easy to make something look like what you see here, with the glass,” said Ross. “You just have to be really patient and if it does break or crack, you just make something else out of it. It takes patience and time, so if you’re not a person who really likes to get into it and take it apart and look at it, [glass fusing] is not for you. I’ve done it about eight years and haven’t gotten bored with it yet.”
Former kindergarten teacher and mother Lauren Ayres promoted her business Dough To Go at Marigold Market, which offers pre-made sensory kits that feature homemade playdough. Ayres molded Dough To Go after adopting three boys from China who never received sensory play as toddlers. Determined to nurture her children’s cognitive and creative growth, Ayres developed sensory kits that serve as therapeutic tools for learning while creating fun, soothing and memorable experiences for her children.
Dough To Go promotes learning by playing and encourages children to experiment with their environment hands on. Hands-on environmental experimentation or sensory play builds nerve connections to the brain and matures a more complex method of learning, teaching children the physical attributes of their environment (sticky, soft, hard, cold, dry, wet, etc.) while developing their senses to improve language, fine motor skills, problem solving and social development.
“I feel like it’s given them the physical representation of whatever they are learning,” said Ayres. “They’re given that avenue where they’re not just reading it from a book, but they’re also not having to be on a screen. It sparks more creativity. Sometimes, they’ll even write in their journal about something they’ve made.”
Ayres usually builds her kits around her children’s interests, but offers themes that appeal to all families and personalities. Ayres offers cultural themes like a box celebrating Chinese New Year and Biblical themes like Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale and Easter. From science kits that explore the solar system and galaxies to adventure boxes filled with pirates and hidden treasure, Dough To Go transports children from their homes to forests and oceans and fairytale worlds, sparking curiosity and conversation while fostering imaginative minds and teaching valuable lessons.
“With a lot of kids, you just need to find their interest and then run with it,” said Ayres. “If they like unicorns, even if that’s not considered educational, their speech and language development you will see improve. You will see their creativity be nurtured. You’ll see all these various things—just from a unicorn—because that sparked their imagination and creativity. Sensory play is really huge.”
With interactive playdough, unique necklaces, fused glass artwork and more, the Marigold Market provided intrigued visitors with one-of-a-kind discoveries and showcased the talent Gadsden holds. The Marigold Market’s mission is to provide a place where gifted artists, inventors, chefs and entrepreneurs can gather to promote their products and businesses, fostering success while supporting a community that welcomes ingenuity, creativity and passion year-round.
“Seeing everyone’s different style of doing things is what I enjoy the most [about Marigold Market],” said Tarrance. “Meeting the interesting people and learning their craft and [understanding] they’re very passionate about it [is so rewarding]. So, when I got involved in farmer’s market and things started transpiring through that, it made me realize how much people love it. We needed something like this here in Gadsden. We have so many talented people here that make things. They are used to going out of town, but if we can offer something here for our locals to bring their craft [that’s what we wanted to do].”