ROGERS — Clint Walker spoke hurriedly between bites of a soft taco. “We’ve already got more visitors than usual for this time of day,” he said, as about 150 people milled about Walker Honey Farm in Rogers on Saturday morning. It was the fourth Fall Farmers Market, an event that usually entices 900 to 1,000 to the bazaar-like open-air site.
Twenty-eight exhibitors with tent tops, awnings and tables laden with everything from metal art to fresh quail eggs vied for customers’ attention, and Walker’s popular honey joined with a newer product from the third-generation business: honey wine, or mead.
“It’s the oldest alcoholic drink,” Walker said, “dating back to 7,000 B.C.”
The ancient tradition of mead making is one of the beverages concocted at Dancing Bee Winery, a division of Walker Honey Farm. The winery opened in September 2011 with a main focus on honey wine and it also offers a small selection of red and white wines made by selected Texas wineries.
“We’re still a small family farm,” Walker said. His grandfather, G.C. “Clint” Walker, began keeping bees in 1930 and his father, G.C. Walker Jr., continued the family business, expanding its customer base. In 1994, Clint III and his wife, Janice, took over operations.
Under a white canopy, Belton Veggie Guys have three tables brimming with pesticide-free produce. They like this market, Jeff Oaks said. “There’s lots of traffic; it’s good for sales.” His partner, Roger Swain, said, “Greens are really big this fall — mustard, collard and kale.”
Sandra Mikesell of Troy drew curious customers to her egg assortment. Duck eggs were $1 a dozen, but more passers-by were intrigued by her dainty, brown-speckled quail eggs at $4 a dozen. “Bobwhites (quail) are tricky,” Mikesell said. “They don’t like to be penned and will escape if they can. I’ve got about 60 birds of different types and the pecking order is important in the bird house — I’ve really learned a lot in the five years I’ve had them.”
In the adjacent space, Mikesell’s sister, Linda Hunter, hawked her homemade bread, made with flour she grinds by hand.
“Steam is the secret to my delicious bread — I try to bake a variety of goodies that folks can buy and eat right away as they stroll through the market.” Hunter’s peanut butter cookies, “made with Walker’s wildflower honey,” were selling fast.
Container-grown citrus trees lined the Lonestar Citrus Farm’s booth. “We only sell at markets,” said owner Sarah, who declined to give her last name. “These trees should be pruned back for sturdy stems when you have a heavy crop, which you’ll have if you’ve watered and fertilized properly.”
The vast pumpkin patch near the entrance kept grandparents, parents and children occupied in a near-constant search for the perfect child-with-pumpkin photo, and sales of gourds, Indian corn and pumpkins were brisk. Besides Walker, the family-friendly market had two other sponsors: Texas Land Bank and Texas Cheese House.
When Clint Walker Sr. bought those first bee hives in 1930, he was “trying to find some way to feed his wife and four sons.” After 83 years, one thing hasn’t changed, according to Clint III: “We’re still committed to producing the best quality honey and honey products.”