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Co-op fair highlights community ownership

Laila Williams, eight years old, gets her face painted at the Weaver Street Co-Op Fair in Carborro.
Laila Williams, eight years old, gets her face painted at the Weaver Street Co-Op Fair in Carborro.

To fix that, the market held its first co-op fair Saturday in Carrboro. Hundreds of people came out to the event to learn more about the market’s cooperative ownership, sample food from local vendors, listen to music and enjoy the afternoon outside.

As a co-op, Weaver Street is co-owned by its consumers and its workers, meaning Carrboro residents who are a part of the co-op and Weaver Street staff share in the market’s profits.

James Watts, operations manager for Weaver Street Market, said the event was created to give the community a chance to celebrate its cooperative sector.

The fair featured booths with free food and beverage samples from several co-op members — including The Pig Restaurant, Two Chicks Farm, Mystery Brewing Company, Steel String Craft Brewery and LunaPops.

Attendees could browse the booths to the sound of live music from Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands, a Greensboro-based but nationally-recognized band that plays carnival-style, jazzy, accordion-heavy music. Kids were invited to make their own pretzel necklaces.

Recipients of the 2013 Cooperative Community Fund grants had displays at the fair, and candidates running for Weaver Street Market’s board of directors were on hand to meet and answer questions from community members.

Representatives from Eastern Carolina Organics, the Latino Community Credit Union and Self-Help Credit Union were also at the fair to share information about their organizations.

Watts said although there has never been a co-op fair before, the market has hosted many parties similar to it to promote its co-op partners.

Sarah Jarvis, a bartender at Mystery Brewing Company and a UNC alumna, said the brewery joined Weaver Street Market’s co-op initiative because it provided a natural atmosphere to sell its beer locally.

Jarvis said the fair was a great opportunity for Mystery Brewing to showcase its summer lineup and gain exposure throughout the community.

“I hope people tried something new, something they’ve never had before, and learned something about us so they’ll come out to see us in Hillsborough,” Jarvis said.

Even though the fair was held on the same day as UNC’s first home football game of the season, both Watts and Jarvis said the number of attendees exceeded their expectations.

“The turnout was great,” Jarvis said. “I never left the booth.”

Tamsin Mulvogue, a resident of Chapel Hill, said she decided to come to the fair with her family after reading about it online.

“It’s definitely nice to have these opportunities to get together with people in the community,” Mulvogue said. “And the music is great.”

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