Gateway: News

Farmers Market enjoys fruitful debut day

On its inaugural Thursday, the Waterfront Farmers Market filled the grass at Skansie Brothers Park with fresh produce, hot food and, most importantly, shoppers.

About 1,500 people attended the Thursday evening market, said manager Kathleen Rose. That’s right where the market expected to be, she said, as the state’s farmers market association told the fledgling market it could expect between 1,500 and 1,800 people.

The market is required to report attendance to the Washington State Farmers Market Association.

In total, there were 22 farmers, meaning those who grow their own food. Adding in food processors and educational stations, there were 40 booths in Skansie Park for the market.

That meant a lot of precise organization. Volunteers in aprons helped vendors set up and ran shuttles.

“A vendor said to me, ‘This is hyper-organized,’” City Administrator Ron Williams said.

Vendors Julie Dennis and Cheryl Asher, of Stray’s American Pies, had booming business for their first day at the market. Dennis and Asher hope to open a cafe and are beginning their business by baking for markets.

Pies flew off their table; they sold two and a half dozen pies in the first two hours of the market.

“We didn’t think we’d sell out,” Dennis said.

The market had a “spread the love” motto as it tied into the Downtown Waterfront Alliance’s Thursday Night Out, said alliance president Pat Schmidt. The market wanted to encourage visitors to shop local merchants as well.

The first Thursday is early in the season, so many offerings and vendors haven’t arrived yet. Later in the summer, there will be berries, peaches and more.

“(The vendor list) will morph and grow as the season changes,” Rose said.

On the first day in a 17-week journey for the market, Rose was busy, but she was pleased with the crowd.

“I couldn’t be happier,” she said.