Once Mudbug Madness is done, Festival Plaza will be transformed into a one-stop shop for locally-grown and made fresh fruits and veggies, meats and eggs, jams and jellies.

The Shreveport Farmers Market kicks off its summer season June 1st. Manager Noma Fowler-Sandlin says the old favorites will be there, and some new things, too.

"We have opened up yet another part of Festival Plaza," says Fowler-Sandlin. "The West End will really be hopping this year with things not only going on in the pavilion, but on what we call "food row," where some of the bigger users of electrical things will be parked." That includes blanched vegetables, bigger meat dealers and a couple of food trucks, so visitors can grab a meal while they're doing their shopping.

Fowler-Sandlin says things will be set up a little differently this year. The tent will now house the Market Cafe. A band will be performing in there, and vendors will be onhand to offer everything from beignets to East African specialties. The East Pavilion will house 86 vendors, old and new. Under the Spring Street Bridge is an Artists Alley, featuring artists working on their wares, including spinning locally-grown alpaca fibers, and throwing pots.

The gazebo on the west side will present fun activities for kids to learn about food, and occasionally taste new things, in conjunction with HGIO -- Healthy, Green and Into the Outdoors.

As a first for the market, participating vendors will accept SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits. Some will also accept WIC and Senior Nutrition Food Program vouchers. "How that will be done is the people will bring their SNAP cards to the tower in the West End of the plaza," Fowler-Sandlin says. "I will swipe their card and give them tokens that they can shop at participating vendors with." There's also an ATM on site.

So have there been any weather-related problems for local farmers? Fowler-Sandlin tells KEEL News some have had to delay their harvests a bit, but the crops are looking good.

The Saturday market runs from 7 a.m. until noon from June 1st through August 31st, except for June 22nd, since the Good Times Festival is going on that day. On Tuesdays, a smaller market will be held on the east end of Festival Plaza, from 3 until 6 p.m.

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