10/17/04 — Faison parade to commemorate farm market history

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Faison parade to commemorate farm market history

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on October 17, 2004 2:03 AM

Faison will celebrate a piece of farming history on Saturday.

Faison's Market Day will start at 10 a.m. with a parade down N.C. 403 and an opening ceremony at 11 a.m. downtown.

The parade will begin about a mile west of town on N.C. 403 where, in 1947, a group of 11 people who were buying from the first market downtown started their own market and called it the Faison Fruit and Vegetable Exchange. The parade will end where the first market stood downtown.

The first market, the Faison Auction, had been built by the town in the late 1920s to keep up with increasing demands for fresh fruits and vegetables. Its first year, the town shipped out 440 railroad car loads of cucumbers from the little shed by the tracks between the bank and the depot.

In its 24th season, the new market was selling 980,000 packages of produce and making more than $2.9 million. Big diesel trucks would roll out of Faison destined for many places, some as far away as Nova Scotia, Chicago, Florida, California, Alaska and Canada, said Ann Taylor, Faison historian and member of the Faison Improvement Group, which is sponsoring the event.

But by 1998, she said, farmers were no longer lining up for miles in trucks, cars, even horse and wagons. Some people attributed the decline in market activity to changes in lifestyle. More farmers were going into hog farming or the poultry business rather than raising produce. Also, many farmers were dealing directly with ready markets and no longer going through "middle men."

The farmers of the produce market left a legacy of hard work, dedication and ingenuity, she said.

"Like the market and the buyers, they are never to be forgotten," she said. "The Faison Improvement Group and the community hold them in great regard."