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Ozark Farmers Market turns to drive-thru format

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Last edited 12:52 p.m., April 27, 2020

The Ozark Farmers Market is scheduled to return May 7 to Finley Farms for its new season, with the establishment of drive-thru and pre-order options amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Farmers market officials said there was consideration to delay the start of the season, which typically runs May through September. However, the drive-thru concept was chosen as a safe option, which allows visitors to interact with vendors while remaining in their vehicle, said Chuck Branch, Ozark Farmers Market board president.

“We decided collectively that we wanted to err on the side of caution,” he said. “Certainly, we have a great deal of sympathy for our farmers. They are our business. I’m sure they’d rather we do a regular open market.”

Branch said there will be two points of entry for market visitors at the Finley Farms development – one off of State Highway NN and another off of West McCracken Road. Market staff and volunteers will direct traffic so that vendors can take orders on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Vendors will man booths separated by at least six feet, with pre-orders also being accepted, he said. A list of vendors, which includes McKenna Family Farm, Possum Creek Produce and Blue Silo Beef, are available at OzarkFarmersMarket.com.

The market’s vendor count is down by about 50% from last year, but not for lack of interest, Branch said.

“That was by our choice, only because of space,” he said of the 15 vendors set for May. “We’re not going to do anything outside of food.”

The Ozark Farmers Market is open 3-7 p.m. every Thursday through September. May 7 marks its second season at Finley Farms, after spending the past four years at the Ozark Community Center, aka The OC.

Branch said the drive-thru concept would be monitored as the season rolls on, with the possibility of an open market still in the mix.

“We’re going to revisit it, but we just don’t know when,” he said.

The market is next door to The Workshop, a craft making space and coffee shop that opened last October. The Workshop is temporarily closed, due to COVID-19 concerns, according to the Finley Farms Facebook page.

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