Construction of the pavilion is already underway and is scheduled to open for its first Farmers Market on Friday, July 7 from 6 a.m. to noon. Concrete for the multi-use 40X100 pavilion will be poured later this week and the roof is scheduled to be constructed next week.
Tuesday morning, the USDA Rural Development agency came with special guests to present a $25,000 check to the City of Lewisburg for construction of the pavilion. The cost of the pavilion is $35,000 and the City of Lewisburg will fund the remaining portion through in-kind services.
"Lewisburg's Rock Creek Park is an important part of the community, bringing people together, giving area farmers a place to sell their products and attracting thousands of visitors to events like the Goats, Music and More festival," said USDA Rural Development State Director Mary Ruth Tackett. "I am pleased that Rural Development is a partner in the new pavilion that will provide year round shelter and increase the park's impact on the economy."
The addition of the pavilion will enable the city to increase the number and types of livestock events as well as to host other kinds of events like trade fairs and concerts. A principal goal of the park's farmers market facilities is to assist farmers in cooperatively marketing their products to local consumers and visitors.
Tackett said it is only through the cooperation of her agency with the City of Lewisburg and Marshall County that such a project can be accomplished. She added that it also requires the funding assistance of the state's congressional and senatorial representatives that have helped to provide rural development with $257 million for projects across the state.
"The City of Lewisburg has put together a first-rate plan to help its agricultural community," Congressman Bart Gordon said in a written statement. "Enhancements like this agricultural pavilion give families a place to gather and enjoy the community, and they help boost the county's economy."
Rural Development's rural business enterprise grant program provides assistance to public or not-for-profit entities to support community economic development programs that assist small businesses in developing local business infrastructure, providing job training, conducting feasibility studies and providing technical assistance to businesses and community leaders.
Lewisburg Mayor Bob Phillips thanked the many people involved in making the agricultural pavilion a reality starting with Mandy Silvey, Susan Hunter and Jamie Stitt. Silvey and Hunter both work with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and are acting members of the County's Three-Star Agricultural Committee. Along with JECD Director Jamie Stitt, they pushed the city to create a farmers market area and the pavilion at Rock Creek idea was born.
In the look for funding, the city turned to Lisa Cross of the South Central Tennessee Development District who aided them in the grant writing process as City Manager Eddie Fuller looked for a proper site for the pavilion. The mayor also praised Coordinator of Special Projects for the Public Works Department for the City of Lewisburg for his work on the project.
"We are excited about this unique project that leverages two sectors of our local economy," said Mayor Phillips. "This will bring more people downtown and benefit the agricultural businesses as well as businesses in the downtown merchants. We appreciate the efforts of Rural Development in providing assistance with this project."
Mayor Phillips said it may seem strange to some that rural development can aid a city in the development of a project like the pavilion project, "but Lewisburg is a rural town."
State Director Tackett said that many communities have been reluctant in the past to come to rural development for funding assistance for their projects because they believed that the agency helped only farmers.
"This is a perfect example of bringing farmers, community and agriculture together," said Tackett. "It's going to be a great asset to this community."
The Ag Pavilion will be used each Friday as a Farmer's Market but it can also be used for other purposes throughout the year from family gatherings to special events. It will also come in most handy when the Goats, Music and More Festival rolls back into town at Rock Creek Park.
"It will definitely mean one less tent we will have to rent," said City Manager Eddie Fuller. "But the pavilion is for anybody who needs to use it."