Meet Kari Gay of Kari's Country Market in French Creek. (All photos by Kim Howard)

The inspiration for the new French Creek country market sprouted out of a second-grader’s dream

FRENCH CREEK — Kari’s Country Market in French Creek officially opened for business on Friday, April 5, complete with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

While it may have appeared like any other ribbon cutting, a closer look revealed that there was something a little different about this new business.

The “owner,” Kari Gay, happens to be a 17-year-old Buckhannon-Upshur High School Senior.

The young agricultural entrepreneur is also the president of the Upshur County Future Farmers of America (FFA), President of the Frenchton Bobcats 4-H Club, an Upshur County 4-H Ambassador, and will soon be representing the Upshur County FFA at a national level competition.

The word owner is in parentheses because her parents – Jon and Cindy Gay, the owners of Mountain Pride Farms, LLC in Frenchton – had to sign the legal paperwork for the business since Kari is not yet 18 years old and, therefore, not yet a legal adult.

“But that will change on my birthday,” said Gay. “Everything will change into my name once I’m 18.”

Pictured, from left, are Kari’s father, Jon Gay, Kari Gay and Kari’s mother, Cindy Gay, at Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This is her dream,” said her mother, Cindy Gay. “It’s always been her dream. We would have put it in her name if we could, even though she is only 17. Some people think that’s a little crazy, but… she’s different. She’s always been different, and we want to help all of our kids get a good start.”

When asked to explain the inspiration behind opening the market, the good-natured young lady answered with the open and confident disposition found so often in people who work with the land.

“It started in the second grade,” she said, laughing. “I guess you weren’t expecting to hear that – the second grade. This is my 10th year of being in business.”

She explained that the dream started on her family’s farm when she wanted to start growing and selling her own Fall crops when she was in elementary school. With her parents’ encouragement, the young entrepreneur started growing and selling pumpkins, corn and Indian corn alongside her parents’ produce.

Her corner of the business became known as Kari’s Corner, and in 2020, she had added Chrysanthemums to her selection of Fall fare and is now up to producing 700 pots of “mums” annually.  

The mums, along with produce and vegetable and flower plants from Mountain Pride Farms and other local farms, will be available at the country market, along with crafts from approximately 50 local vendors, and locally raised beef from the farm of Kari’s uncle, Eric Thomason’s Old Oak Farms, located in Rock Cave.

“In the Summer, the front (of the store) will be full of fresh produce,” said Gay.

Gay, who plans to attend WVU after graduation and major in Agriculture and Extension Education, said she will be hiring some of her FFA peers to work at the market to help provide real-world business experience.

Kari’s Country Market is located at 10538 Route 20 South Road in French Creek, across from the West Virginia Wildlife Center. Business hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. You can also follow the business on their Facebook page or contact the market via email at

More photos from the grand opening and ribbon-cutting appear below:

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