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2023 Award of Merit: Manteo

Updated: Jun 28

Manteo Downtown Market

2023 NC Main Street Award: Organization

Best Healthy Communities Initiative

  • Manteo Main Street

  • Town of Manteo

The Manteo Downtown Market, located along the waterfront and boardwalk on George Washington Creef Park, is the longest-running farmers market in Dare County, with up to 65 participating vendors each year. What the market was missing was an opportunity to engage the youth of the community, connecting young entrepreneurs with a more mature generation of market vendors.

The Downtown Market Director, Tammy Batschelet and the Main Street Director, Michele Bunce, saw this as an excellent opportunity to build a more inclusive, socially, and economically engaging downtown marketplace, and to foster and support young local entrepreneurs in the community.

The Town of Manteo worked to recruit local middle and high school aged vendors in 2022 by reaching out to Middle and High School Principles, Career, and Technical Education teachers, the local Cooperative Extension office, and the local arts community to help recruit students. They recruited four young entrepreneurs, and in 2023 they recruited three more.

Michele and Tammy shared the responsibility of being present at the market to demonstrate their commitment to the social, academic, and personal growth of the young vendors.

The Manteo Main Street program gave the youth market space at no cost and provided guidance in starting a business and even featured them in a video advertising support for both the market and the students. The older vendors offered the students guidance, advice, and extra boxes for their goods. This collaboration helped the students feel connected to their community, and the vendors, visitors, businesses owners and town staff built a connection to one other.

The Downtown Manteo Market has become a community gathering place and hub that drives people downtown to businesses, while stimulating a more thriving market and environment where people come together for laughter, fellowship, and fun. The youth vendors attracted their specific supporters, including family members, friends, and other students which created an appeal for a younger customer base that wasn't previously being served, and this resulted in increased sales. The family and friends that come to see the students at the market, also shop in the downtown stores and eat in the restaurants. The businesses quickly recognized an economic benefit of the added young entrepreneurs.

127,650 people attended the market in 2023, a thirty percent increase from previous years. The market generated $220,000 in sales for local vendors.

The Downtown Manteo Market embodies the spirit of a healthy community initiative by providing an environment for all people to thrive, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, income, age, abilities, or other socially defined circumstances.


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