Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Bald Knob Farmers' Market

Between 60 and 100 years ago, Bald Knob and Judsonia really had something going for them: strawberries. The little red guys were a major source of the towns' success, and every summer during the peak season folks from all over the place would gather at the Bald Knob Farmers' market. It took place at a group of long, covered buildings just near the train tracks, where the railroad cars would deliver crates and crates of the fruit. It was a time of community for the towns; they would all gather to help unload and prepare the strawberries for sale.

Here's the market in the 1940s. Click to see larger images. You can see crate of strawberries on the truck in the second picture. Note the old multi-tiered telephone poles in the background. These still stand all along highway 64 going towards Wynne, but many of them are skewed at strange angles, their long-unneeded telephone cables drooping to the ground.

Here's the strawberry craze going on in Judsonia in 1915. This is a part of Judsonia I still need to go and take pictures of (I have to check if that huge house is still there).

Here's a more recent (1960s) aerial photo of the farmers' market during an off season. Note the service station on the left side of the photo; that now is Bald Knob's fire station.

By the time the 60s and 70s rolled around, the strawberry market was in its death throes. Now we just go to Wal-Mart whenever we need strawberries, although I have heard that Arkansas strawberries still have a delicious reputation. But while the farmer's market has dwindled to nothing, the buildings still stand, reminding us of a time when the town came together like a family.

My lovely fiance and photography partner makes a cameo in the third photo. Anyway, as far as I can tell, all of the market buildings are intact, but don't seem to to see much use. At least one of them had a storefront built into the front of it. It currently houses nothing but dust and roaches.

This is the kind of thing I love to discover about these small towns. It's sweet like strawberries to unearth what history lies in some otherwise fairly boring and nondescript buildings, but then bitter to see where time has landed them. If I had a time machine...well, I don't, so let's leave it at that.

1 comment:

Jenna said...

There are still farmers that sell their produce of the fresh, preserved, and pickled variety all along 367 in the summer. However, sometimes I think some of their sweet corn and blackberries may be from the produce aisle at Wal-Mart.

We should review the fruit/veg stands between here and Bald Knob.

Summer Project #26