October 4, 2023

Airport to Host Fly-In Market on Feb. 9

Fly-In Farmers Market

The December 2018 inaugural St. Mary’s County Fly-In Farmers Market was such a success that two more markets are now scheduled for Feb. 9 and March 16, 2019, said Scott Sanders, one of the organizers of the first Fly-In market.

The February and March farmers markets also will be held at the St. Mary’s County Airport terminal building at 44200 Airport Road in California, MD. It will be held 9 am to 2 pm. Mr. Sanders promises “something special” for both winter markets, noting the Feb. 9 date is just before Valentine’s Day.

The St. Mary’s County Fly-In Farmers Market is the first of its kind in the nation, Mr. Sanders said. It embraces the rural and agricultural characteristics of Southern Maryland, while highlighting the role our region has had in developing our nation’s air and space technologies.

“There is something special in being able to combine these things,” he said.

The Pre-Valentine’s Fly-In market will feature:

Battle Creek Beef – Full assortment of all “natural” beef and pork products

Blue Wind Gourmet – Local chocolate

Goose Creek Farm – Farm-raised Shiitake mushrooms. Fresh and dried

R&H Farms – Pork products from free range heritage pigs. USDA gourmet pork

Swamp Fox – Family owned small farm selling pastured raised chicken, duck and eggs

Olivin’s – Maryland’s finest aged and infused fine olive oil and vinegars

Port of Leonardtown Winery – Because what doesn’t say love like a bottle of wine

Social Coffeehouse – Fresh Maryland coffee and “hot” Locavore Panini’s

Moonstruck Oysters – Local farm raised oysters from Hollywood

Tobacco Barn Distillery – Highly acclaimed bourbon and spirits

Just Loafin’ – Locally made artisan breads

Grandpap’s Honey – Locally sourced honey from Southern Maryland

Free State Cidery – Hard Apple Cider from the highest quality apples harvested in Maryland

“[The Dec. 22] event was a perfect combination of community coming together with aviation and agriculture, the very basis of the county economics,” agreed Ken Reed, managing partner of S. Hunt Aero. Mr. Reed’s development company partners with St. Mary’s Department of Economic Development and a wealth of technology and aeronautic entrepreneurs turning the airport campus into an Innovation District.

During warmer months, St. Mary’s County operates a number of farmers markets and so does Historic Sotterley. “We needed an appropriate interior space for a winter market, said Mr. Sanders, a partner in Tobacco Barn Distillery, one of the local producers finding success through regional farmers markets.

The county’s economic development director Chris Kaselemis and his team help promote county tourism, agriculture and seafood, and business development, Mr. Sanders said. “So we’re looking for cool things to do. And we’re looking for a winter venue. This event touches all three.”

Mr. Kaselemis completely agreed.

“The Fly-In Farmers Market was fantastic,” he said. “Where else can you see Santa fly in on a red helicopter and then shop among local vendors for fresh produce, meat, and value added products like bread, bread, whiskey, hard cider, and honey and also purchase Christmas gifts like chocolate, cakes, and kettle corn? And where else can pilots fly in for a farmers market? The market’s location at the St. Mary’s County Airport not only brought more attention to the county’s budding Innovation District, but it also allowed for a unique experience for our children with the awesome Santa fly-in.”

The growing high-tech aspect of business development on the St. Mary’s County Airport campus has generated ever strengthening public-private collaborations. So everyone working on the airport embraced the notion. Then Historic Sotterley stepped in as an official sponsor, bringing their experience to the table.

“We definitely wanted to be part of this,” said Nancy Easterling, executive director of Historic Sotterley.

“I knew this would be a success,” Mr. Sanders said.

Mr. Kaselemis gives much of the credit to the community members who made it possible.

“It took Tobacco Barn Distillery’s Scott Sanders’ energy and passion for promoting local products and our county to make something out of nothing. Scott worked with Ken Reed of S. Hunt Aero and Nancy Easterling of Historic Sotterley to put the pieces together to make this event. People who missed out this year should put a note on their 2019 calendar to attend next year’s Holiday Market, which I’m sure will be even bigger and better,” Mr. Kaselemis said.

“It is wonderful to see significant activity in the airport terminal,” Mr. Reed said. “We are looking forward to partnering with everyone for more events in the future. We want to generate more reasons for pilots to fly in and experience St. Mary’s County!”

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