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Buice column: Farmers Market has lots of stories

There’s lots to like about the Clemmons Farmers Market.

I remember walking through all the booths while visiting the market at the Jerry Long Family YMCA about this time last year and hearing one of the vendors describe what makes it so popular.

“There’s a lot of traffic here with a good location, a good number of vendors and good variety. You can get a little bit of everything here. All the variety gives us all a chance to have our products out there.”

And there’s all those unique narratives, such as a 10-year-old “farmer” from Clemmons who got a booth after taking on a small garden as a science project while being homeschooled with help from her mom when schools were shut down last spring due to COVID-19.

Also last year, there were a couple of local chefs put out of work by the pandemic who set up shop to explore different paths going forward — one selling pies as he opened a new business and another who decided to turn a farm he had started on the side several years earlier as a hobby and then shifting it into a business.

And there was a “Mom and Pop” farm that offered a wide range of products while the owners maintained demanding jobs as a research scientist and general contractor/beekeeper.

Those were just some of the ones I wrote about last year.

A return visit this year to the market on a scorcher of a Saturday morning produced more interesting stories, including a guy whose love of popcorn became a new career, and a couple with a background in health care who have transitioned into something totally new for them — pastured-based farming (see my story on today’s front page).

Regarding the popcorn guy, how cool is that to do what he’s doing? This coming from someone who used to go movies to get the hot-buttered popcorn and hope the movie was OK.

• • •

Speaking of food, did you see the recent study from the University of Michigan that found eating a hot dog could take 36 minutes off your life?

Wow.

I guess I’m glad to still be alive.

• • •

One of my favorite weeks on the calendar each year is when the Winston-Salem Open comes to town.

Well, it wasn’t a favorite week in 2020 since the annual ATP 250 event, which is part of the U.S. Open Series, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Making it even worse, I had knee surgery during that week to repair a torn meniscus suffered while playing tennis myself.

So this year’s 10th anniversary of professional tennis coming to Winston-Salem last week was even more special than usual.

And what a tournament it was, starting on the first night when one of the world’s top players, Andy Murray, walked onto the Stadium Court at the Wake Forest Tennis Center before a sellout crowd.

It was a thrill to see him play live and in person, and also funny because I could see him talking to himself after every point from my seat behind the baseline, but I could never make out what he was saying. Still, it was hilarious.

My preferred day to go each year is Tuesday when most of the players in the field are in action. I love to rotate around the four courts and watch a variety of players — gravitating to the best matches.

One of those was late Tuesday afternoon on Court No. 2 when I saw Marin Cilic, a veteran pro from Croatia, trying to close out a match against Ilya Ivashka, a player I wasn’t familiar with from Belarus.

I watched his powerful serve and ball-striking ability with interest as he rallied in the third set to win a second-round match. This guy is a player, I thought.

Little did I know that the unseeded Ivashka would streamroll the field, including knocking off top-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals, on his way to his first ATP Tour title.

I always chuckle when I hear the statement that smaller tournaments, such as Winston-Salem, don’t draw many of the big names. That’s true, but when you look back at the past results, of the 10 tournament winners, nine have risen to the top 20 in the world. That’s quality tennis.

So look out for Ivashka in the U.S. Open and going forward. And remember when and where the Belarusian was first discovered.

• • •

Finally, football season is here. And what a great way to get started with a Thursday-Friday doubleheader.

The first game tonight pits my alma mater, App State, playing against in-state rival East Carolina in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium — the home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Now that’s some “home” opener.

Then Friday night, the hometown team, Wake Forest, opens at home against Old Dominion. I look forward to the game for sure but am also excited about the halftime show when Winston-Salem State’s award-winning band, the Red Sea of Sound, takes the field.

That’s like another doubleheader in and of itself.

Football also signals the arrival of fall, and after all the recent heat, I can’t wait for that.

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