After months of anticipation, the grand opening of Greenwood's Uptown Market pavilion is 5 p.m. Thursday at 220 Maxwell Ave.
Dignitaries will make remarks, the building will be blessed and there will be music and a ribbon cutting, as well as a kickoff for the pavilion's water feature. A number of market vendors will also be present.
The first 500 attendees receive a free tote bag, courtesy of Countybank. The bag design includes art by local fourth-grader Savannah Smith, who won Uptown Market's tote bag art contest.
Attendees can also register Thursday to win a door prize, an original painting by award-winning Greenwood artist Marianne Lenti, who frequently sells her art at the Uptown Market. The painting is a framed 16x20 seascape titled "California Lighthouse."
New summer hours for Uptown Market are 8 a.m. to noon Monday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, and strawberries at 1 p.m. Friday through May 10. Mid-week Fresh Connections will be at 220 Maxwell Avenue after April 20.
Uptown Market manager Stephanie Turner said she is "thrilled" that the pavilion "reflects both how special a resource our local agricultural community is and how rich our railway heritage is in Greenwood," noting the design has been influenced by a long-gone railway passenger depot that was once in the vicinity.
"I hope visitors will take time to speak to farmers and make plans to enjoy this beautiful addition to Uptown Greenwood," Turner said.
Connecting people with fresh, local agricultural products, the open-air market also serves as a location for events and has an interactive water fountain "splash pad" to be open to the public for free during warm months. During the grand opening, there will be a demonstration of the interactive fountain, but it is not yet open to the public.
In 2011, the City of Greenwood began hosting "vision sessions" and meetings to begin discussions about a farmers market in Uptown Greenwood. Now, those visions are reality.
"After five-plus years of planning this amazing market, I cannot tell you how excited I am," said market vendor Penny Parisi of Parisi Farms in Abbeville.
Parisi was a participant in every farmers market meeting during the planning process.
Modeled in part after the 1950s-era Seaboard Air Line Railroad passenger depot, the pavilion has been funded through private donations and the City of Greenwood's 2 percent local hospitality tax. The tax is collected on prepared foods and beverages in the City of Greenwood, for community enhancements that spur economic development.
At the grand opening, learn about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps), Carolina Farm Stewards' Upstate Farm Tour, healthy food preparation tips and more.
Marie Duffie, chief clinical dietitian with Self Regional Healthcare, said Uptown Market shoppers have enjoyed trying food samples and take-home recipes to cook those sampled dishes at home. Duffie and her cohorts with Self Regional Healthcare have routinely prepared samples and recipes to share during the market's Fresh Connection, which brings together the community, through arts, music and local food.
"We recently had samples of a cauliflower soup," Duffie said. "Everyone loved it and could not believe it was only made with a few ingredients, and had few calories and little fat. Our shoppers tell us they love it when we are there with samples and recipe cards."
FOUR-INGREDIENT CREAMY CAULIFLOWER SOUP (recipe from toriavey.com)
Servings: about 8, depending on size of cauliflower head used
1 head cauliflower, about 2 pounds, chopped into florets
2 teaspoons salt (for cooking water)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
4 cups of water
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Stir in 2 teaspoons of salt until dissolved. Add cauliflower florets. Return water to a boil and cover. Cook cauliflower 5 minutes or until soft and tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove cauliflower florets from water. Reserve salted cooking water.
Place cauliflower in a blender, filling it halfway. Pour in reserved cooking water, until the water line reaches about halfway up the cauliflower. Cover and blend carefully, scraping sides as needed. Soup should be a smooth puree. Additional cooking water may be added, a little at a time, to reach desired consistency.
Add salt, pepper and butter to taste. (For richer flavor without dairy, use olive oil in place of butter.) Serve hot. Consider topping it with a drizzle of olive or sesame oil, crumbled Parmesan or blue cheese or fresh herbs such as parsley.