Chaffee Crossing Market a celebration of homegrown, handmade in Fort Smith

Chaffee Crossing Market a celebration of homegrown, handmade in Fort Smith
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

Ask Lorie Robertson to describe the Chaffee Crossing Farmers & Artisans Market, and she can’t say enough good things fast enough. The next-to-last edition of the “monthly festival-style market centered around vendors who produce homegrown, homemade, handmade, original art, designs and creations” is Sept. 18, and the list of activities is as long as the history of the former Fort Chaffee military property.

The monthly Chaffee Crossing Farmers & Artisans Marketis is described as a “festival-style market centered around vendors who produce homegrown, homemade, handmade, original art, designs and creations.” (Courtesy Photo)

The September theme is “Rockin’ Good Time,” Robertson says, and that means “rock crawlers, monster machines, UTVs, etc., to give people something to see, touch and talk about while they eat and listen to music in between shopping with vendors.” There will also be pottery wheel demonstrations by Cre8ive Arts Network members; plants for sale and gardening advice from the Learning Fields at Chaffee Crossing, an extension of the River Valley Master Gardeners; six “fantastic local food trucks”; a kids’ area with lawn games and a bounce house; art activities for youngsters provided by the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum; and live music on the Blue Suede Stage — which recalls one of Fort Chaffee’s claims to fame.

“Visitors also have the opportunity to visit the Chaffee Barbershop Museum,” says Robertson, “where Elvis Presley received his first G.I. buzz cut when he joined the Army in March 1958.”

The museum is free, as is the Museum of Chaffee History, which Robertson says offers a “timeline of the history of Camp Chaffee/Fort Chaffee, which has served a very important role in U.S. military history from World War II to the present day. Exhibits also cover the prairie families who lived on the land before Chaffee was settled, German POWs housed at Fort Chaffee, Vietnamese refugees at Fort Chaffee, Cuban refugees at Fort Chaffee, the three movies filmed at Fort Chaffee, and Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees who were brought to Fort Chaffee.”

Even as summer vegetables taper off, the Chaffee Crossing Farmers & Artisans Market Sept. 18 will be ready for fall with pumpkins, hay bales and more. (Photo by Shutterstock)

The Chaffee Crossing Farmers & Artisans Market not only creates opportunities for vendors, Robertson says, but it’s “also building the sense of community, both for residents of Chaffee Crossing and for people all over the region.”

“It helps people learn their way around Chaffee Crossing and to meet new people or renew old acquaintances,” she explains. “It also draws the general public in to expose them to all of the exciting things that are happening in the Chaffee Crossing Historic Area.

“The first monthly market was in May with 15 vendors,” Robertson says. “The September market has more than 75 vendors committed. Our last date of the season is Oct. 16, and we expect it to be just as successful. We hope to carry that momentum forward and increase attendance for the eighth annual regional Veterans Day Parade at Chaffee Crossing on Nov. 13 by hosting a food festival in conjunction with the parade.”

The market is just a tiny tip of the iceberg that is Chaffee Crossing which, she says, has 41 residential neighborhoods, half a dozen corporate headquarters and the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education medical school. And that’s not to mention the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, an outdoor recreation attraction that offers kayaking and canoeing on Wells Lake, nature trails, picnic facilities, miles of cycling, running and multi-use trails, golf, soccer, pickleball, a dog park and direct trail access to Ben Geren Park.

“From the minute visitors park and walk up to the [market] nestled among World War II-era Army barracks, they sense a hum of excitement and activity,” Robertson says. “The smiles are contagious and continuous throughout the crowd. People make new friends, discover new ideas and creativity, and occasionally bump into friends they haven’t seen in years. It is a happy place that people come back to again and again.”

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FAQ

Chaffee Crossing Farmers & Artisans Market

WHEN — 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 18 & Oct. 16

WHERE — 7313 Terry St. in Fort Smith

COST — Free admission

INFO — 452-4554m or email market@chaffeecrossing.com

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