A pavilion that will allow vendors to sell in the rain or shine is being constructed as part of the Chester Farmer’s Market.
Construction has begun on the Chester Farmer’s Market Pavilion on Front Street, with workers in the process of completing the metal roofing.
While a septic system was put in last summer, it took two years of fundraisers and a $5,000 General Improvement Fund Grant from Western Arkansas Planning and Development District to begin the above-ground work, said Lynnette Mikesell, who organizes the Chester Farmer’s Market.
“Until we got the grant we weren’t even close to being able to start,” Mikesell said.
A local family donated the old cannery foundation to the city for building the market pavilion, Mikesell said.
With the old rock foundation, the open-air pavilion will have a rustic feel in keeping with the “country style” farmer’s market held in Chester, she said.
“With so many businesses closing in Chester, we hope it will become an icon,” Mikesell said. “The point is to keep Chester’s identity alive.”
Mayor Shannon Smith applied for the grant to assist with the construction of the pavilion, and is waiting on another $2,800 to complete the building, she said.
Smith is applying for another grant for the city’s community building. If she receives a matching grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, that money will be used to smooth the old foundation and put in bathrooms at the pavilion, she said.
“Right now all we have money for is to get the structure up,” Mikesell said.
Still, the pavilion is expected to be ready for use by the end of the month and will be used for the first market of the season May 3, Mikesell said.
Even though the farmer’s market is the entity driving the creation of the pavilion, Mikesell and Smith said the structure will be available for other uses.
“I would hope that they could use that to do fundraisers, have singing - get local people to have concerts,” Smith said. “It will be something the public can use.”
Smith noted that there already have been requests to use the space for an auction, she said. Smith also hopes it will attract more vendors and shoppers for the market, she said.
Though money is still need to complete the structure, Mikesell said it feels good just moving forward with the project. It has been a community effort, with lots of volunteer help and support from the mayor and city council, she said.
“It’s nice to see what small communities can accomplish,” Mikesell said. “It’s hard to get the dollars together; we have to work twice as hard.”