The Downtown Conway Farmers' and Craft Market was bustling Saturday morning as children and their families took part in a day focused around the county's first responders.
Set up in downtown Conway, this farmer's market sets itself apart from others by adding onto the already family-friendly environment through themed events, such as Saturday's Emergency Medical Services Day.
Local first responders including the Faulkner County Emergency Rescue Squad, Centurion Storm and Emergency Response Team, Conway Fire Department, Faulkner County Office of Emergency Management, Faulkner County Sheriff's Office, Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services and the Conway Police Department were on deck to show off their equipment and teach passers-by about safety.
Of the many first responders on site Saturday morning, one group noted this was their first event out in the public.
"We're a newer organization, so this is great for recruiting," Gary Wright of Centurion Storm and Emergency Response Team said. "We're all volunteers, and we're just trying to help out."
Centurion Storm Emergency Response Team is a disaster emergency response team, meaning they're storm chasers.
The group has five departments — storm team, operations, medical, special purposes and security — that work together in decreasing response times following national disasters and heavy storms.
"The whole idea behind what we do is to beat the bigger guys such as OEM to the site," Wright said as he further explained the team's work. "We got into meteorology and storm chasing so as we're following storms, if we have any questions about anything, we have different divisions to come in and start getting things set up for MEMS and your police. The average call time for police after a disaster hits is 45 minutes. We try to get there before that because, unfortunately when a national disaster strikes, minutes mean lives."
Those who attended EMS Day also had the opportunity to have their children's IDs made at the rescue squad's booth.
As parents picked out fruits and veggies and looked through assorted crafts, youngsters steered them toward the fire truck parked in the back and also hopped onto some of the CPD patrol motorcycles that stopped by.
Lindsey and Matt Spicer are frequent farmers' market shoppers.
The Conway couple said they usually make at least two to three trips each month to the Downtown Conway Farmers' and Craft Market.
Saturday's event made the trip even better, Lindsey said, noting their 3-year-old son, James Matthew "JM," is a big fan of fire trucks.
"We usually come out at least two to three times a month, but we knew today was EMS Day so we knew we had to come out," she said, noting the fire trucks and CPD motorcycles were a favorite for JM, who was grinning ear-to-ear as he met officer Chris Buss.
FCSO spokesman Erinn Stone said participating in EMS Day provided a new opportunity for the sheriff's office to form relationships with the community.
"The farmers' market is a different atmosphere, but we're meeting a lot of people out here," she said.
While the rising temperatures left attendees dripping with sweat, it did not deter locals from enjoying a day at the farmers' market or persuade them against the opportunity of allowing their children to befriend local police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders.
A family of four also said their children had a great time at Saturday's event.
Caroline and Jake Roark brought their 2-year-old son, Lincoln, and their nearly 1-year-old son, Davis, out to EMS Day.
The couple said their children also leaned toward voting the fire department as the No. 1 attraction at Saturday's event.
The next Downtown Conway Farmers' and Crafts Market event is scheduled for July 21 and will focus on local military personnel.
The Conway Army Recruiters Office will be onsite and their will be a 16-foot Army gaming trailer packed with family-friendly activities from 9 a.m. to noon July 21.
The Downtown Conway Farmers' and Crafts Market, located at 718 Parkway St., is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.