Barnard Castle Farmers' Market aims to go one better in awards
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
ORGANISERS of Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market hope acting on feedback they received 12 months ago will help them bag a national award.
The town’s monthly mart is one of four shortlisted in the Farmers’ Market of the Year category at the annual Farm Retail Association (FRA) awards – with organisers hoping to go one better than last year when they were pipped by a collective from Hampshire.
Judge Andrew Burton, who cast a critical eye over Barney’s market last year, returned last Saturday to carry out judging for this year’s awards.
Market manager Carol Parker said she hoped he had been impressed with changes made in response to comments from his previous visit.
“We took some action on his feedback from last year, which was about more variety and making the organisation more visible, which we have done through new branding of bags and signs. He was impressed with that,” she said.
“He really picked up on the co-operative working and despite the weather, everybody was in good spirits.”
Ms Parker said the market was just about running at full capacity, despite another challenging year.
“We have had to replace quite a few traders who have ceased for various reasons, some as the result of Covid, but it has given new businesses an opportunity to trade.
“We are still getting a full complement. We are running at 25-26 stalls at the moment – at a push we can fit in 27,” she said.
Among those new to the market this year is Cassie’s Kitchen, a family business run by Andrew Robson and his wife Natasha, from Bishop Auckland.
“We also do Sedgefield market, as do a lot of traders here, so it was word of mouth that brought us here and I love it,” said Mr Robson.
The stall, which sells scotch eggs, runs alongside the couple’s other catering ventures, which include a burger restaurant in Durham and a mobile unit made from a renovated vintage caravan.
Ms Parker said she hoped the market would prove just as popular with traders next year.
“I have just sent out the application packs for next year and if everybody comes back, we will be full,” she said.
“This year has been about filling gaps, but the new ones we have had are all pretty happy with how things have gone.
“The tourist trade came back during the summer, although not as strongly, and we get good support from people in the town, with lots of repeat business.
“There are also some people who travel just to come to the market.”
The market takes a break in January but will return to the cobbles on the first Saturday in February.
The FRA awards will be announced as part of the association’s annual get-together, which is being held on Tyneside in the spring.