Farmers market has been part of Aiken scene since the 1920s

Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Cassie Mae Foley, who has been a vendor at the Aiken County Farmers Market since it opened at its Williamsburg Street location, cut the cake for the market's 55th birthday celebration. Fred Broughton, of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, brought a proclamation from the governor to the celebration.

With balloons and a gigantic birthday cake, it was a special birthday celebration Aug. 4 at the Aiken County Farmers Market.


The festivities weren't in honor of a person, but rather the market itself.

"It's the market's 55th birthday," said Coleen Reed, the volunteer coordinator for the market.

The farmers market in Aiken predates the current location on Williamsburg Street. On Saturdays in the late 1920s, farmers sold produce behind the Public Works building on Newberry Street, according to a brochure about the market's history.

The first market was organized in 1930. Women made baked goods and sold flowers.

The market moved to the site of the former Aiken Cotton Platform and Scale in 1954. In 2003, the market was designated as a historical landmark.

On Aug. 4, that tradition of selling flowers, baked goods and produce continued at the market.

Cassie Mae Foley has been a merchant at the market since it began at Williamsburg Street.

"I've been coming to the Farmers Market for 70 years," said Ms. Foley, who cut the birthday cake. "I'm tickled I get to come back."

Ms. Foley had cakes and pies for sale at her booth.

Fred Broughton, a marketing specialist at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, visited the market to bring a governor's proclamation and to promote the Certified South Carolina program.

Merchants also participated in the Great American Bake Sale, a national effort to raise money to help fight hunger.

In addition to watermelons and other produce, Ms. Reed had cookies donated by Maggie Sacks, of Newberry Hall, at her table. Cookie proceeds benefited the anti-hunger campaign.

From April through December, the farmers market is open from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.