June 1, 2023

Airpark Drive-Thru Market Is Huge Success

market airport drive-thru
Katherine Stormont of the St. Mary’s Department Economic Development waves cars into the Mother’s Day Drive-Thru Farmers Market at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport.

More than 600 vehicles toured St. Mary’s County Regional Airport this past Mother’s Day, experiencing its first-ever drive-thru farmers market. The success was obvious from the 10 am opening through the steady stream of cars until the 2 pm close. Plans are underway for the next drive-through to be June 14, 2020, Flag Day.

“Every car, everybody was in a good mood,” said Ken Reed of S. Hunt Aero, developer of the  burgeoning aviation-technology park at the airport. “Not one person was frustrated. It was ideal.”

The airpark venue of the Mother’s Day drive-thru market stationed 18 vendors along the sweeping new roads through the campus of a growing number of aviation and technology firms. Here’s a bird’s eye view video as the first customers arrive on Mother’s Day 2020.

Maps were printed of the route, complete with a legend identifying the vendors and their locations. Katherine Stormont of the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development handed them out near the park-and-ride on Airport Drive and answered any questions. Airport Drive intersects with Route 235 at the Wildewood shopping center and runs past the Wildewood office parks and the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland before entering the airport.

Mr. Reed had printed 300 maps, “so we ran out early,” he said. Even so, the signs along the routes were clear, the pace was slow and steady, and a handful of very cheerful, masked men stood at the intersections to direct and answer questions. Automobiles could queue, waiting for the next vendor in line, or easily slide out of line and head directly to the next shop or to a specific vendor.

“These vendors are the ultimate entrepreneurs,” Mr. Reed said. They sold everything from locally raised meat, bourbon, jelly, and oysters to hot coffee, sticky buns, and freshly cut flowers. “Everybody sold out,” he said. “Multiple times!”

The same organizers who figured prominently in the creation of the nation’s first fly-in farmers market — Scott Sanders of Tobacco Barn Distillery, Nancy Easterling, executive director of Historic Sotterley, and St. Mary’s DED —  didn’t want current social-distancing restrictions to thwart the success of the farmers markets held inside the Walter Francis Duke Terminal. So they moved outdoors.

Using the roads and parking lots of the new campus-styled aviation technology park, many of the same vendors from the indoor farmers markets set up their stands outdoors, along the roads and at the edges of parking lots. With significant distance between them, the vendors lined a single-file route running through and then leading back out of the airpark.

Scott Sanders of Tobacco Barn Distillery at the Mother’s Day Drive-Thru Farmers Market at St. Mary’s Airport.

“It’s such a good group to work with,” Mr. Reed said of the day. Despite having never done a drive-thru scenario at the airport before, he said vendors arrived and set up without a hitch and everyone in the automobiles was excited to be attending the market. And after it was over, the only trash remaining for him to collect was a single cellophane cracker wrapper.

For more information about the growing Aviation Technology Park at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport, contact Ken Reed, 44191Airport Road, Suite C, California, MD 20619;  Cell 301 904 9928  Email [email protected]

To learn more about S. Hunt Aero, visit its Leader Member Page or its Facebook Page.

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