PUBLISHED SEPT. 29, 2016
By CARL MARIO NUDI
Now that fall has arrived, it signals the opening of the Bradenton Farmers’ Market on Old Main Street in downtown Bradenton.
Shoppers can buy fresh vegetables, fruit, baked goods, olive oil, cheese, garden plants and much more from the 35 vendors from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1.
“The Farmers’ Market really focuses on eating locally and on a healthy lifestyle,” said Peg Haynes, who is starting her third year as market manager.
The Farmers’ Market has been a downtown fixture for about 17 years, but under the direction of the nonprofit organization Realize Bradenton for the past six years, it has become a must-do event.
“The Farmers’ Market has become a destination venue,” Haynes said. “It’s something the whole family can do on a Saturday.”
To keep the crowds coming, Realize Bradenton, under the direction of Johnette Isham, has added extra features to the market.
One of the most popular events is Mainly Art, an artist’s alley held along Fourth Avenue West, just off Old Main Street.
About 20 local artists display their art. They will be selling items such as paintings, jewelry and ceramics. Haynes said all of the art pieces are unique and different.
“One artist makes jewelry from electronic parts,” she said. “You wouldn’t know it until you looked real close.”
Mainly Art usually is on the third Saturday of the month, but will be held during the season opener Saturday before reverting back to the third Saturday in November.
“It’s kind of like an extra bonus this week,” Haynes said.
At the end of the row of artists’ booths, local musicians perform providing a festive mood.
At the opener, Paige Merriman, an emerging artist, will perform at Mainly Art, and the Trevor Bystrom Duo will play a variety of music on the south end of Old Main Street.
Another special event that draws an audience is the Chef at the Market.
Chef Dave Shiplett of Birdrock Taco Shack and Dana Johnson of Sugar Cubed Bakery, will create a meal for market visitors to sample.
The chefs will start cooking around 10 a.m. at the booth near the corner of Old Main and Fourth Avenue.
The menu will consist of food items the chefs picked up at the farmers’ market. Both restaurants are located in the Village of the Arts, Haynes said.
The Chef at the Market is featured most weeks during the season.
To highlight his new booth, Adam Rothstein, of Sarasota Beef Company, will do a cooking demonstration on Oct. 8.
Rothstein will sell grass-fed beef raised on the MJ Ranch in Myakka City.
Every third Saturday, Chef Guy Gaetano, owner of Ortygia in the Village of the Arts, will do the cooking demonstration.
On Oct. 22, there will be a “Friendly Food Fight,” where chefs from five local restaurants will demonstrate their cooking expertise with fresh produce and other ingredients from the market.
A panel of millennials will judge the cook off and market patrons can vote for the People’s Choice Award. This event will kick off the Oct. 22 through Oct. 30 “Eat Local Week.”
New this year, the Manatee County Extension Service Family Nutrition Program will do demonstrations at the Rainbow Kitchen on how to prepare healthy, nutritious meals on a budget.
And because of a grant, shoppers using EBT cards can double their spending power up to $20 with the SNAP Bonus Bucks program.
The county extension service will also have Master Gardeners on hand every first Saturday to answer questions.
Kids’ Corner was added this year. Fun 4 SRQ Kids, a local enterprise that provides activities for children at special events, will have kids decorating a reusable shopping bag they can bring every time they visit the market. Kids’ Corner will have a different activity each Saturday.
Throughout the year there will be other special events, such as the Howl’ween Pet Parade on Oct. 29; Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine blood pressure and diabetes screenings on the third Saturday of the every month; and the Central Manatee Library’s Creative Learning Station every fourth Saturday.
The Farmers’ Market has been so successful because it supports local businesses, Haynes said.
“All of the vendors are local businesses as well as the restaurants and retail shops along Old Main Street,” she said.
“Coming to the Farmers’ Market gives people an opportunity to get to know more about the shops and restaurants in downtown Bradenton,” Haynes said. “And eating locally you know your food is coming from a nearby source.”
Parking is free throughout downtown and dogs on leashes are welcomed.
The market continues each Saturday through May 27, 2017.
For more information about the market, visit BradentonFarmersMarket.com, and for more information about Eat Local Week, go to LocalWeekSRQ.org.