As tents pop up along Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluffton every Thursday year-round, dumpling stands, fresh vegetables and other local flavors of the Lowcountry are laid out on tables in appetizing spreads.
A little before three in the afternoon, a steady stream of locals and tourists fill up the walkways between the tables of goods. With the market open until seven, there is plenty of time to shop around. People might pass by a professor-turned-farmer selling farm-raised beef and sausage or a couple selling homemade spices. Local artists often show off and sell their artwork and handmade crafts, and whether you’re in the market for fresh Sriracha-flavored pasta, an artisan focaccia loaf or homemade honey granola, there’s always a new vendor to discover here. As it gets later in the day, shoppers debate whether to buy a handcrafted salted caramel frozen pop or a freshly squeezed orangeade for afternoon refreshment. Some end up getting both.
Children trail alongside their parents admiring the bright colors of the food and artwork in the stands. The scent of boiled peanuts and roasted chicken fills the air with an aroma that stops patrons in their tracks, tempting them to add another treat to their collection.
Visitors can easily spend hours at the market and hardly notice the time go by. Some reach a point where they could pack up and leave but opt to settle down under some shade and enjoy one of the treats they picked from the market.
The crowd usually dwindles as the afternoon turns to evening and the Bluffton Farmers Market nears closing time. The beauty of closing time, however, is that you never know what you’ll discover when the market opens again next week.