It’s dismal news indeed: Because of that April frost, there’ll be few if any Arkansas-grown peaches, blackberries or blueberries this year.
No peaches. The best argument for enduring July in this state is the peaches.
But if you’ve been a weekly habitué at the Farmer’s Market in past years, no need to get drastic and stay away this time around. The fruit may be scarce, but there’ll be no shortage of other things to shop for, thanks to what seems to be an ever-growing number of local craftspeople and artists who set up booths on market days.
There are also a few hawkers of cheap T-shirts and sunglasses — proof, I guess, that downtown is now officially a tourist destination — but for the most part, these are Arkies selling what they’ve produced with their own two hands.
My favorite may be A Wright Creation’s John B. Wright, a Little Rock man who makes gorgeous pens, magnifying glasses, letter openers, bottle stoppers, kaleidoscopes and a lot of other things out of wood. There’s a huge range of styles, prices and wood types to choose from — pens start at $20, for instance, and go up to about $170. Some are stately, others fanciful, like the pens, bottle stoppers and egg-shaped kaleidoscopes Wright makes out of a multi-colored wood produced in India. They almost look tie-dyed.
There’s a ton of jewelry, of course. Ken Myers of Benton, whose business is called Frontier Leather and Jewelry Craft, makes chunky turquoise rings and necklaces, as well as hand-crafted “frontier-style” leather handbags and satchels.
Other artisans turn out more delicate pieces, and the prices are generally agreeable — I saw matching necklace/earring sets for under $30 at one booth.
If you’re after a whimsical gift, look for Isinglass Designs, an art-glass booth. There’s lots of jewelry, but don’t miss the teeny-tiny glass bottles — complete with cork stoppers — and the equally diminutive glass cats, fish and frogs, all under $20. For a little more money, check out the fused-glass sushi sets — a tray and two plates. Designs on display when I went included a bamboo plant and a red fish.
If you’re a foodie, look for Loomis Farms’ booth. Jim and Janie Loomis, of Texarkana, grow their own herbs to make tasty flavored olive oils and seasoning mixes. Prices start at $5.75.
Other options around the market: Bonsai trees in hand-crafted clay pots, paintings on canvas and plates featuring lots of rural scenes of African Americans in bygone days, soy candles, straw hats, handmade goats-milk soaps, crystals, hand-sewn patchwork skirts, shopping bags and handbags. And that’s just on Tuesdays; a lot of vendors show up only on Saturdays.
• SOHO Modern’s sofas-and-more sale continues until Saturday, June 2. All sofas are at least 25 percent off, and the rest of the store is 20 percent off. Special orders are 15 percent off. The store is at 2200 Cantrell Road, in front of Cajun’s Wharf.