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The Ponchatoula Times
Ponchatoula , Louisiana
November 28, 1985     The Ponchatoula Times
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November 28, 1985

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THE PONCHATOULA TIMES, NOVEMBER 28, 1985, SEC. B., PAGE NINE Country Market celebrates 13th Open House Staff Report The Ponchatoula Country Market today enchants visitors for a very good reason. It all started as a dream. Ponchatoula in the early 1970's was bursting with native talent, with every imaginable craft represented but no place for craftsmen to come together to work on and display their unique offerings. Mrs. Patricia Richardson had done quite a bit of traveling and liked what other towns and small cities had done to "make themselves special, noticing that the best of these always seemed to have offerings of crafts and unique collectibles. In 1972 the hopes and aspirations of the craftsmen and women of the area ignited with the vision brought back to Ponchatoula by Mrs. Richardson, and with the effort of some very dedicated people. The Country Market was started at the old lllinois-Central Gulf Railroad depot. At first the craftsmen, who had organized themselves into a legal, organization, rented the depot. Later, the property was in danger of being sold and one well-informed source said that had it not been for the generosity of Mrs. Ruth Thibodeaux two businessmen from outside Ponchatoula were going to buy the station for their own project. Local legend has it that the lllinois Gulf Central Railroad saw the wisdom of selling to the local craftsmen after then-Mayor Charles Gideon ordered a speeding train stopped and its engineer arrested, promising to stop more trains if the railroad wouldn't relent. The Country Market has since paid back the money used to buy the building and has operated with unquestion- ed success over the past 13 years. The Market is now a non-profit inde- pendent corporation with a board of directors made up of citizens and crafts- people who sell at the market. Mrs. Thibodeaux was the charter treasurer and is the only original member still active on the board. though Mrs. Richardson has a lifelong honorary seat on the board. Other officers of the Market include: President Mrs. Ruth Berner, Secretary Mrs. Cathy Welles, Manager Ed Nettles, Fundraising Chairman Cleve Mendoza. Advertising co-chairmen Mrs. Jeanne Zaleski and Mrs. Edna Marie Perrin, and board member Mrs. Jackie Castell. "We have brought approximately one million visitors to the Country Market over the past 13 years, according to our records." said Mrs. Zaleski. She said that so far this year visitors have signed in from over 30 foreign countries and from 49 states. The Market is a constant source of television feature stories and was featured extensively during a weeklong Channel 2 report. "It's nice to see the television personalities who come here to broad- cast our unique story and who return with friends to shop here," said Mrs. Zaleski. The reason for all the attention from visitors and hometown shoppers alike can be found within the fanciful interior of the market, which this time of year (no, all year round) resembles the one and only Santa's Workshop. There are 50 booths, each of them filled with hand-crafted items which sell for amazingly low prices. Items vary as much as the imagina- tions of those who create them. from a solid wooden rocking horse for a child to a patented arrangement of mink and silk flowers, from hearty lunches of soup and sandwich to delicate embroidery and stitching that is a lost art. What, plainly speaking, amazes Sure winners as gifts Christmas decorations visitors and "market craftsmen alike is that so few Ponchatoula citizens make the market one of their regular shopping stops, perhaps not realizing that its offerings are constantly changing and each visit presents the shopper with a new find. "I challenge anyone reading this to get into their car, fill up their tank with gasoline and drive as far as it will take them, in any direction, and find another location in any size city or town which offers the unique gifts and goods we have at the Country Market, which is only a short drive for most of your readers, if not a short stroll from their homes," said Mrs. Zaleski, who is president of the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce as well as a craft seller in the Market. For those who have not visited the Country Market in a while and are getting the idea great bargains and fantastic gifts have been slipping by, Saturday's 13th Annual Open House is a great occasion to come by. at The Country Market Saturday Nov. 30 at the Gator Cage 10- 5p.m. ! FREE This is the place Refreshments to buy hand made unique Christmas Gifts Santa's uoor i-'rizes WO! ShOp I I to be . in Ponchatoula | given away Ill t every hour 50 Booths Food Antique to shop at Dolls Mail Car Art Gallery Wood Crafts Metal Sculptures Great presents Kitchen Accessories I for Ponehatoulans . . . Hand Made Clothes hvlng away Toys and more