Partnership hosts Farm to Fork Fiesta

Locals enjoyed a meal made by renowned chefs from throughout the state See Tuesday night at the Farm to Fork Fiesta. (Photo by Mary Rumore, SDN)
Staff Writer

The Greater Starkville Development Partnership hosted its third annual Farm to Forks Fiesta Tuesday night as a fundraiser for the Starkville Community Market.

The event featured a Mexican-inspired meal from chefs David Crews of Delta Supper Club; John Currence of City Grocery Group and Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford; Derek Emerson of Walker’s Drive In, Local 463 CAET and Parlor Market in Jackson; Ty Thames of Eat Local Starkville Group; and Cuylor Reeves and Dillon Han of City Bagel and Italian Bistro, a part of Eat Local Starkville.

Partnership Director of Tourism Jennifer Prather said since the Partnership took over the Community Market five years ago, she has wanted to create a fundraiser to host the event, which led to her and Thames beginning Farm to Fork.

“I had this desire to do some type of fundraiser that would not only promote the market itself but also showcase our culinary environment here in Starkville,” Prather said. “It’s very authentic in the aspect that chefs really buy from local farmers here. You see chefs come to the market to pick up items here.”

Prather said the first year, Starkville Main Street even won a state award for best creative fundraiser.

“It’s really organic and really unique,” Prather said. “The chefs are required to have 90 percent of their dishes be made from local products from the market vendors from our local area vendors who support our community market.”

Prather said some of the proteins in the meal were not from the local area, but all the products are sourced from Mississippi.

“It’s a great way for us to show the public what the difference is with fresh local foods,” Prather said. “There really is a difference and a taste difference.”

The funds raised during the event go toward the Starkville Community Market, which will begin on Saturdays starting this week at 7:30 a.m.

“This fundraiser is to benefit the sustainability of the community market,” Prather said. “What we’ve done is create a savings account where we are able to raise money and start collecting so that we’re able to do things like improve the aesthetics and the usability of this area for the community market and other events in general.”

Prather said the funds also go toward potential future projects such as building a stage or pavilion.

Emerson said the event not only serves as a fundraiser but an opportunity for chefs throughout the state to promote their restaurants as well as Mississippi’s food scene as a whole.

“We all support each other a lot. Ty and I do events together multiple times a year and there is a camaraderie,” Emerson said. “And using local ingredients is better for us, its better for them and its better for the community.”

Thames said this event allows for Mississippians to be aware of locally sourced restaurants throughout the state no matter where they travel, and allows restaurants the opportunity to support each other.

“Its really cool to get to support each other,” Thames said. “And our customer base, especially with the football teams because they travel around, they understand what we’re doing here and for example they know what Derek is doing. Events like these help people to know what restaurants to go to when they’re in town.”