From jams to jewelry, home decor to shrubs, Market at the Mill has it all

One year after COVID-19 halted the springtime Market at the Mill, the City of New Roads and participating vendors hoped for a turnout and participation close to pre-pandemic numbers, but it was no comparison.

This year’s event at the Old Cottonseed Mill at Community Park exceeded expectations.

Clear skies most of the weekend – with the exception of Saturday morning – and an ease in COVID-19 restrictions prompted a huge turnout The event attracted 145 vendors – an increase of 25 from the holiday event in November.  

“People were glad to get out,” said Betty Fontaine, director for the event. “The weather was nice, and we were very thankful it only rained overnight. God is good.”

Vendors from throughout the South offered items that ranged from clothes, fragrances and jewelry to books, home décor and greenery.

“This is just the coolest venue we’ve ever been to,” said Chesley Floyd, who ran the Magnolia Loft apparel booth with her husband, Darron.

The couple made the haul from Deville, a town 1,300 near Alexandria. They have participated in similar events in Natchez, Lafayette and Allen Parish town of Grant, but New Roads has become their favorite.

“We love this building, along with the atmosphere, the customers and the vendors,” Chelsey said. “It’s a great time for us.”

The event has become a favorite for Saelisa Moses, a New Orleans resident who sold candles for her business “Let Your Light Shine Bright.”

“I’m planning to do Atlanta and Houston, but I still prefer events like these in smaller towns,” she said. “It’s a much more family oriented here.”

The strong turnout has made the event a tradition for Rusty and Paula Blanchard of St. Amant, who have sold metallic décor at the show the past three years. They have seen the event evolve from a local gathering to a statewide attraction.

“We’ve had people come here from Lake Charles, New Orleans and Shreveport,” Rusty Blanchard said. “We only wish the other events we work could take place inside of a building.”

Some vendors use the event for more than traditional business.

New Life Apostolic Church in Port Allen set up shop for a bake sale that will help generate money for upgrades to the sanctuary.

“We’re fixing to do an addition to the front of our church, so this really helps,” Pastor Sid Carroll said. “Plus, we get to mix and mingle with vendors and customers, so it feels almost like a big family gathering.”

The event also provided New Roads resident Maddie Crochet, 16, a chance to promote her line of salad dressings. The market proved she may have found her niche.

“We haven’t even gotten past Saturday, and I’m almost completely out of dressing,” she said. “I’ve sold 500 bottles in two days.”

The event also has grown as a tourist attraction throughout the state.

Livingston Parish Councilman Maurice “Scooter” Keen and his wife, Kay, have made the event a tradition.

“We come every year and we’ve always enjoyed this event,” he said. “We need more of these types of events.”

For Livonia resident Lucille Webre, the shopping event has been a longtime tradition.

“This was the first time that I’ve gotten out in a year, so this couldn’t come at a better time,” she said. “It’s good to see things are finally getting back to normal.”