Winding through the Ouachita National Forest, you can feel the anticipation mounting as you approach Perryville. Our destination: Iron Horse Farm, which is just shy of an hour outside of Little Rock, Conway, and Benton but well worth the scenic route deep into the forest. The location was once used for horse training and breeding but today, the Allen family owns the property and utilizes it as a Black Angus cattle ranch, event center, and, for the purpose of our visit today, the Iron Horse Marketplace.
“During the pandemic, Jim and I would load up the family and pets and head out to Iron Horse to get away from it all,” says Katharine Allen Adams, owner of Iron Horse Farm. “I would look out and see all this potential and the idea that I kept coming back to was the marketplace.”
“Katharine and I have visited a lot of regional junktique-type marketplaces and we always love meeting the craftspeople,” said Jim Felton. “We knew at Iron Horse, with two equestrian barns with stalls and electricity, that we had the perfect venue ready-made for vendors and with 500 acres we have plenty of parking and spaces for food trucks and more.”
The debut of the Marketplace occurred in May 2022. More than 36 vendors filled the stalls of both equestrian barns and more than 800 guests enjoyed their wares. The second Marketplace is happening October 22 and 23. Admission is $5 and parking is in a field located near the barns, and while an easy walk, there are ATVs available to assist those with mobility issues. Guests are permitted to bring small wagons or carts for carrying goods (and from what we hear this go-around, you’ll need one). Most of your day will be on paved or flat areas and there is plenty of shade from trees and inside the barn structures. The food trucks in May were fantastic (we enjoyed the BBQ sandwich from Smokin’ Hot Concessions), so good that the bar-b-que truck is returning and adding in breakfast dishes and there will be an addition of a wood-fired pizza vendor this fall.
“We’re completely booked up on vendors inside the barns and have additional folks who plan to set up booths outside. In fact, we’ve got over 50 vendors for October,” says Katharine. “It was important to us to get feedback after the May event and I think word of mouth among the crafter community really got out that Iron Horse is a venue you want to display at because we take care of our vendors and guests.”
Guests can expect a wide range of crafters and junktique vendors displaying items for sale such as hand-crafted jewelry, vintage Christmas decor, kitchen items such as cast iron skillets, vintage plates, unique woodwork, hand-turned wooden ink pens, bath items, and more. Some of the vendors include Ding Dong Woodshop, Beads by Billie-Jane, Southerland Comfort, Mom’s Happy Camper candles, Crafts by Lori and Ronnie, Blue Diamond Hobby Farm, I am Gosia handmade jewelry, Quarts Creations, Lauren House Design, 2 Lane Iron, David’s Woodwork, Hogsberry Farms, Lyons and Linens, Eco Bomb Babe bath items, McCallie Ranch Antique Co-op, Creenna’s Workshop, Gigi’s Attic, Something by Martha, E&E’s Soap Shop, South of Brimfield, Milly’s Candy, and My Shirt Show.
“What’s new this go around? I think Atomic Wood Fired Pizza will be popular and we’re working on a hayride to break up the day, especially for little ones,” says Jim. “And we’ll have live music around lunchtime each day. Just being in this tranquil setting is relaxing and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Well worth the drive and the price to park.”