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The new South Carolina State Farmers Market & Agribusiness Center will open in phases beginning Aug. 16, Hugh Weathers, commissioner of agriculture, announced July 14. The market is located on Highway 321 in Lexington County.

The first phase will include the South Carolina Department of Agriculture's laboratory and consumer services facility, farmers sheds and administration building. That opening will coincide with the opening of private wholesale companies V.B. Hook & Co. Inc., Senn Brothers Inc. and Supersod Inc.

The next phase, planned for the fall, will include opening of several more wholesale facilities in addition to other privately owned facilities, such as a recreational vehicle park, amphitheater and tour bus drop-off as well as the Corbett Building that will house the exhibition kitchen, bakery, restaurant and retail produce space.

Later phases will include the opening of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s conference center, which will coincide with the first Fall Plant & Flower Festival at the new market. Additional private facilities will be used for the sale of produce and South Carolina products, a specialty foods shop, a meat market and a seafood market.

The new conference center will house the Market News and the Grading & Inspection Services as well as serve as a venue for meetings, workshops, and other public and private events.

When all the phases are complete, the department believes that the new South Carolina State Farmers Market will set a new standard for a cherished American tradition. The state-of-the-art marketplace will provide South Carolina’s agricultural community a one-of-a-kind showcase, while offering area residents an attractive combination of shopping, dining and entertainment.