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It's like WalMart, but better

By Lorain Watters
On July 16, 2013

With the increased arts in the El Paso community, a new player has been added into the mix. 

Originally an artists' market, the Museum of Cultural Affairs Department has combined it with a farmers market and, introduced the new Downtown Artist and Farmers Market on June 8.

Every Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., families can enter the market at the Union Plaza for free. Local food trucks, such as El Paso's Wurst and Teaze, open their windows to serve the community a local taste while they browse art and locally grown fresh foods.

It may seem a little overwhelming at first as the small tents are lined next to each other on sidewalks and their products and merchandise fill every inch of space. Yet, it makes for a unique experience; similar to a flea market, the artist and farmers market has vendors and artists that are friendly but respect your space and offer enough of their product to give customers a variety.

Personally, I enjoyed the market and how communal it felt to be there. Despite the sweltering sun beating down my back, it was amazing to see the vendors take pride in their behemoth-sized vegetables or the artists offer attendees to wear their handcrafted jewelry.

However, due to the lack of advertisement (aside from the billboard along I-10), it was not as full as it could have been. Most people seemed to walk in hesitantly, look around the tents and leave shortly after. Aside from the availability of food and the unique attractions, nothing was making them stay.

Maybe it was the heat that drove them away or the limited shade and benches for people to sit on-regardless, people were still leaving without any organic bags filled with vegetables and organic products.

Perhaps if tables were set up with enough chairs and maybe live music events were set every weekend, it could turn into a market that residents would want to visit every Saturday and stay from beginning to end. 

However, I don't understand why people prefer to buy their groceries at WalMart and not there. 

WalMart receives the bulk of their food from companies that are located miles away from El Paso, all claiming that they are fresh and locally grown. The vegetables are small and only fresh for the first few days.

The food available for purchase at the artist and farmers market is three times the size of any vegetable found at WalMart-not to mention juicier. Although more expensive than WalMart, the market has produce that is visibly fresh and worth the money. So why not support locally grown food? 

There is hidden talent in this city, and this market allows everyone to catch a glimpse of that. I believe this market is like a flower bud within El Paso, slowly blooming into something great that will eventually bring in a lot of curious residents.

Everyone should put their sun hats on and take their families out to the Union Plaza to experience our cultural splendor, along with shopping for their weekly groceries. 

It is not just another street market, but one that clearly shows the potential that El Paso has to be a great city, with talented individuals and their clever art designs and powerful green thumbs.

Lorain Watters may be reached at [email protected] 

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