On a summer morning in 1994, Mary Soyenova and Renate Rikker set up tables outside of the Black Mountain Town Hall – selling produce to just five customers.
While Farmer’s Markets were plentiful across the United States, there was only one market (North Asheville Tailgate Market) in the area. With and abundance of produce, the blessing of the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce, and a hand-printed sign, the pair opened the Valley Tailgate Market a the corner of Montreat Road and State Street – now, Town Square.
The first three years were a labor of love – with low attendance and few vendors. But, in 1995, Mike and Linda Kazulen of Mike’s Produce joined in the orchestration, and began to find ways to garner community participation. With the addition of local live music, Salsa and Apple Pie Contests, the Market began to come to life.
In 2002, under the leadership of Elaine and Harry Tamil, the weekly event became the Black Mountain Tailgate Market. It was moved to the grassy lot behind the Louise’s and SunTrust Bank. Under the Hamil’s leadership, the Market continued to prosper, and in 2007 it moved to the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist of Swannanoa Valley.
In 2009, the Black Mountain Tailgate Market was established as an N.C. non-profit – Complete with a Board of Directors and the addition of Market Manager, Joan Englehardt. First Baptist Church of Black Mountain then-pastor David Rayburn allowed the Market to utilize the field on west side of its property – hosting a single row of 20 vendors.
Today, we celebrate 29 years of building community together. As we look to the future, we hope to honor the spirit of Black Mountain Tailgate Market, its rich history, founders, and all of its iterations.