Last Sunday, April 3, marked the return of the Dirtbag Ales Brewery weekly Farmer's Markets. Vendors set up tables, under fabric gazebos laid their wares out with care. Lines often form before the market has officially opened at some stalls. The markets at Dirtbag began in April of 2016 before completing the facility that houses the brewery and taproom. And they have only grown. Dirtbag Ales Brewery now hosts five different types of markets, and they will run all year long.
"They have turned into this whole thing," said Shannon Loper, operations manager and event and marketing coordinator at Dirtbag Ales Brewery.
Weekly Farmers Markets
The farmer's markets were born from a love of all things local.
"The Farmer's Market came from our love and desire to source locally for our beers. So, strawberries, herbs and any type of fruit that we can source locally any type of grain, hops, any of that stuff that we can get North Carolina made we purchase, and we put into our products," Loper said.
This love of all things local is also evident in their Heroes Homecoming Pilsner.
"It is completely North Carolina-made, from the yeast to the grains to the hops to the label that went on the front of the can that we collaborated with the city of Fayetteville. Every bit of it was done right here in North Carolina," Loper explained.
Open every Sunday from early April until late November; the Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market boasts a variety of well-vetted vendors. Great care is taken to ensure the vendors and shoppers are well protected, and the items on offer meet all rules and regulations.
"We have quite a few rules that we established from the beginning," Loper said.
The market requires relevant health or Department of Agriculture inspections, and all vendors must have liability insurance.
Dirtbag Ales Brewery Market Manager Michelle Bruening realized early on in her position that certain vendors were no longer participating as their businesses grew and shifted into full-time brick-and-mortar ventures.
"You have to think of us as like an incubator. People come here … and they grow, and you have to be proud of them when they move into a brick-and-mortar establishment, and you have to say, 'you guys did it, good job,' and now look for somebody to replace them," Loper explained.
Bruening and Loper have a lot to be proud of; Napkins chef Brian Graybill is set to open Pan, a new restaurant on Hay Street, Ambery Edge, owner of Authentique food truck, is opening Vibe also on Hay Street, Vagabond Coffee opened on Hay Street in November, and Fräulein Pottery is set to open tomorrow, April 7 in downtown Fayetteville, to name just a few.
Misfit Markets transform into Night Markets
"We would have all the applications from these beautiful artists and these wonderful vendors that were not necessarily a fit for the Farmers Market," Loper said.
After many applications from vendors that were not quite the right fit for the farmer's market, Dirtbag decided to create the Misfit Market to offer them a venue to sell, and they have now transformed this market into their new Night Market.
"The Misfit Markets, we are super excited about this year because we are turning [them] into a full-blown Night Market," Loper explained.
The new Night Markets will be held on the last Wednesday of every month from April through November.
Marketgoers ' favorites will be in attendance, and Dirtbag has added café lights to their building and around their pavilion to provide ambiance and light. The vendors will be set up in and around the parking lot and the pavilion.
Bruening and Loper said they have 27 vendors lined up for the New Night Markets at the time of this interview.
"I really like how small it is because you feel more like you can talk to the vendor about their passion. It's a lot of people who are very passionate about what they are doing," Bruening said.
Shop Small Market
Loper's origins in the Women's Business Center of Fayetteville led to the inception of the Shop Small Market. While at the WBC, Loper helped with their capacity as a Shop Small Ambassador.
"When I left the WBC, we did a small shop market at the Legion Road location, and then we carried it over to here," Loper said.
The first year they had 12 to 15 vendors and only used social media to advertise this year, they used radio ads, and Bruening organized 54 vendors. Since its beginnings in 2016, the market has also seen the addition of music and food vendors. All vendors come from within 100 miles of the brewery, and it is held annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
"The impact on the local economy of what a small shop market does like that is huge, especially right before the holidays for some of these small businesses," Loper said.
German Christmas Market
The German Christmas Market originated with Hyatt Hakim, the brewery's long-term yoga instructor. The event started in her yoga studio.
"Hyatt's German and she was looking for a little bit of home, and Tito [Vernanrdo 'Tito' Simmons-Valenzuela, co-owner and brewer] brews fantastic German-style beers, so it was originally just a natural co-host for us. We were providing the German beers, and she was providing the Germans," Loper Laughed.
Dirtbag Ales Brewery donated beer for the first event, and the following year the moved it moved to its Legion Road location. This past year marked the sixth German Christmas Market, and it will be back next year.
The Mini Markets have just ended for the year. These Markets run every other Sunday from January to March. They are exactly what they sound like — a smaller version of the Farmer's Market. A small selection of vendor shops in the Dirtbag Ales Brewery pavilion.
"People still wanted to be able to get their groceries when the Spring and Summer markets went away," Loper explained.
Markets are busy days at the brewery, and Loper attributes this to the support of the local community.
"I think that when Tito and I came here, and Jerry and Eric, the partners, it was huge for us to be able to make a space that represented our community … and to try to help as many small businesses as we possibly can. And non-profits, we work with a ton of non-profits as well," Loper said. "It's just the community wanted us to succeed, so they are behind us 100%, I feel like."
This year the markets will be featuring different non-profits as well. Visitors can learn about Kids Peace, an organization that supports local foster families, the John E. Pechmann Fishing Center, and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission education facility or Fizzy Friends Bath Bombs, a pair of young entrepreneurs who donate their proceeds to support local school children. Dirtbag hopes to feature a new non-profit in every market. Any non-profits interested in space are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regardless of what marketgoers are searching for, Dirtbag seems to have a market on their calendar to help them find it. For additional information on the Dirtbag Ales Brewery Markets, visit their website www.dirtbagales.com or their Facebook page, Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market.