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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Weird Day at Market

Steve Dana buying local produce from Eugene in quieter times (warmer too)

Had a farmers' market this morning. It was a cold clear morning. The temperature was hovering near freezing as Eugene and I loaded the van in the morning dark preparing to leave for Oxford so we could get there by 7:30am.

Drove down as the sun slowly rose in the east taking bucolic country roads (I guess all country roads are bucolic) watching the growing light.

Got to market just as it opened. We should be set up at this point but, hey, it was cold! Quickly pulled canopies, tables, table cloths, baskets and produce out of the van and set up the store in about 10 minutes (we have this down to a science). Started selling things to people and talking about the cold. As time went on and the sun got higher it got warmer and everyone was happier until...

The evangelical christian sect set up in the Martin Luther King Park to the SW of where the farmers' market is. It started out okay. We heard a commotion and looked over to see a group of people with signs and placards saying things like "Repent" and other scary "Hands of an Angry God" things and they had these really big Bleeding Jesus on the cross banners they were carrying around.

Okay, I believe in freedom of speech and religion. They were in their area away from our area so I was okay with what they were doing even though I do no agree with their message, it is their coinstitutional right as Americans. Than they broke up their prayer meeting and spread out over the uptown area and started doing loud preaching. One bullet headed type with a crewcut decided preaching at the farmers' market would be a good idea. So he trundled his ample figure over to the western edge of the market and with bible in hand started screaming at us that we are all sinners and it is time to repent and other such bullshit. Now I realize I just wrote that he was within his rights to do this but what he was doing was not just making us uncomfortable but it was also ruining business and I guess these clowns do not realize that most the farmers selling things at the Oxford farmers Market, Uptown do this for a full time living and he was hurting our bottom line. perhaps if the religious sect had come to the market and spent some money and bought our food and crafts we would feel a bit more congenial about all this. but they did not, they simply were assholes to the nth degree.

I am sorry but I am not religious and I do not appreciate being screamed at in order to save my soul. No one does. I do not understand why these odious evangelical christians continue to alienate people in an attempt to save them. I feel that a person's faith is a personal thing between them and their god(s) and perhaps their church, temple, synagogue, grove, nest, meeting, etc.. Screaming at me will not do any good except to create hostility towards your religion on my part.

So the bullethead stands on the edge of the market right next to poor Scott Downing and screams scripture and his interpretations of the bible. The customers were upset, the vendors were upset even the dogs seemed upset by the guy. OFMU board Pres. Steve Dana tried to get the guy to go away and did distract him for about 15 minutes so we farmers could go about business. But soon enough he was screaming THE WORD to everyone in ear shot. Steve even called the cops to see if they could stop these people but no, they had a legal permit. So they guy was in his legal rights to stand a foot outside the farmers' market and be loud.

The market ended and we were serenaded by this guy the whole time we were packing up. I have never seen the market clear so quickly. Usually we have customers for about 10 to 15 minutes after close. Not today. We had one person right at the bell than no one and by 11:45 we and Don Schwab were the only folks left and that is because we were talking about the religious people and the Tuesday market. Fortunately by that time the evangelicals were leaving as they had to stop at noon sharp. I noticed an Oxford Cop was parked a half block away watching them pack up. I guess there must have been a lot of complaints to the cops over these guys. Perhaps they will not be issued a permit next year.

We can only hope.

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