The annual return of the Shreveport Farmers’ Market has become an event in itself, drawing thousands to Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport for food and entertainment. As is evidenced by today’s story in The Times and the current Forum Newsweekly cover story, the event has also become a bonafide media darling. Even if you haven’t attended a Farmers’ Market, chances are good that you’ve at least heard about it.
The obvious main attraction is food. From fresh fruits and vegetables to Gulf-caught shrimp, hand-made snacks like pralines and whoopie pies to local honey and beignets, there is an unbelievable variety of cool stuff to buy at the Shreveport Farmers’ Market. Local artists selling their work, including art of the wearable and non-wearable varieties, adds to the appeal.
But, honestly, my favorite element of the Shreveport Farmers’ Market is the human element. You can make some downright fascinating friends here, even if you’ve got no money to spend. Take, for example, Dardanella Powell. Better known as “Dardie, Queen of Pralines,” she could teach a master’s class on the topic of self-promotion. If you’re looking for an audience with the Queen at this weekend’s market, just scan the crowd for a giant, sparkling tiara or a brilliant silk jacket emblazoned with the words “QUEEN OF PRALINES.” Dardie knows how to make an impression, but she also knows how to make a praline. Her Creole-style pralines are delicious and simple, packed with pecan halves and what I am guessing is enough butter and brown sugar to make Paula Deen weep.
In the fresh produce area, you’re going to want to meet a man named Poo-Poo. His real name is Thomas Butler, and he owns Lucky Liquor, the downtown Shreveport dive bar that is prominently featured in the opening credits of HBO’s hit series True Blood. In one of those “only in Louisiana” twists, he and Lucky Liquor bartender Doris also grow and sell fresh veggies. If you haven’t been lucky enough to catch Doris and Poo-Poo selling huge crates of turnip greens in downtown Shreveport for a few dollars per crate, you can catch them here. They are truly unforgettable characters.
These are just a few of the friends I’ve made thanks to the Shreveport Farmers’ Market, which is open 7 a.m.-12 noon on Saturdays and 3-6 p.m. on Tuesdays. Admission is free. They have a great website with loads more information including info on dates, vendor maps, live music and more. Like them on facebook to get the latest breaking news from organizers.