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New market to benefit Firehouse Cultural Center

Published on: March 1, 2018

Milagros Produce, of Bradenton, will feature farm-fresh produce at Jen’s Market at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin March 15 and April 19. JENNIFER MCCAFFERTY PHOTO


Now is the perfect time for an outdoor market where folks can shop a variety of vendors and spend some time in the sun and fresh air.

That’s why Jennifer McCafferty and the Firehouse Cultural Center have partnered to introduce Jen’s Market on the grounds of the new Firehouse Cultural Center Studio from 3 to 7 p.m. March 15 and April 19.

“We’re excited about our partnership with the Firehouse Cultural Center and seeing how the community receives the market,” McCafferty said. “We plan for it to become a permanent seasonal event (September through April).

Part of the market’s proceeds will go to the Firehouse Cultural Center for its scholarship fund, which provides funding for adults and children in need to participate in the center’s art classes and summer camps.

The pet-friendly market will feature the KidZone, a market within the market for children ages 7 to 17 to sell their wares. The Firehouse Cultural Center’s hydroponics class, for example, will be selling its vegetables and herbs. Crafty items like beaded jewelry, slime, dog biscuits  or handmade bookmarks, drawings and cards could be sold. Booth space for kids is free.

McCafferty is also offering free classes to children and their parents on market guidelines, ideas for crafting, setting up and more. She will arrange to go wherever needed to provide them.

“The idea is for kids to make crafts and sell them,” McCafferty said. “It’s basically an awesome learning experience where they can acquire new skills as young entrepreneurs. They’ll learn about handling money, dealing with people, marketing and presentation.”

Schools and other organizations can also request a class. For example, she recently gave a class to the South Shore Homeschoolers group at the Apollo Beach Recreation Center.

Jen’s Market at the Firehouse Cultural Center will have an array of 30-plus vendors selling everything from oils, soy candles and apparel to cigars, local honey and farm-fresh produce and citrus. Vendors will include the likes of Papaya Tree Imports, Milagros Produce, Essentials of Nature, Florida Honeybees and Peach Pit Farms. Doobie’s Southern Kitchen and My Hot Dogs Rule will sell food on-site.

Adult beverages will be available at the Dilly Donation Station for a suggested donation of $4 to the cultural center.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will host a free, minibike rodeo for elementary school-age kids on bike safety conducted by Community Resource Deputy Jeff Merry and four other deputies. They will hand out safety information and bike helmets supplied primarily by AMSCOT, fit them properly, and then show the children safety techniques like walking their bikes through a crosswalk.

Michael Parker, a member of the Firehouse Cultural Center Board, will provide free fix-it instructions to kids on things like changing out wheels, fixing a chain, changing hand grips and more.

“Like all my markets, this one is family- and community-focused,” McCafferty said. “The location is perfect for everyone to stop by after school or work, meet up with friends, shop, eat and relax. There’s a huge oak tree for shade and a front porch just for sitting and socializing. Tell the kids to start crafting now!”

The Firehouse Cultural Center Studio is at 102 First Ave. N.E., Ruskin, across the street from the Firehouse Cultural Center.

Vendor spaces and sponsorships are still available. For information, visit, email or call 813-846-1316.