WESTFIELD-Now in its fourth season, organizers for the Westfield Farmers’ Market continue to add new features that will enhance the open market experience.
“We are excited about the new season that starts May 31 because our customer base continues to grow,” said Deborah Randzio, market co-manager with Peter Langmore. Maria Parent, treasurer, rounds out the executive committee overseeing the market.
While many vendors will be returning for another season, Randzio is hopeful that new vendors will also consider participating in the Thursday market.
“We are still in need of vendors selling mushrooms, wines, pork and poultry to round out our offerings,” said Randzio.
New vendors joining the market to start the season will be selling gluten-free breads, maple syrup specialties, locally roasted, fairly traded coffee beans, and Thai food including curry, stir fry, spring rolls, papaya salad, fried chicken, sticky rice and mango bubble tea.
Returning vendors will be selling a variety of products ranging from relishes, locally made non-dairy gelato and sorbet, fudge, chocolates and candy, to cheese, cut flowers and herbs, apple cider doughnuts and beignets, sugar scrubs, and handcrafted unique seasonings. Additionally, a full range of produce in season will be available each week, as well as traditional baked goods including brownies, cupcakes and pastries, jams and jellies, and custom cakes. Vendors will also be selling a wide variety of handwoven products, pottery, and handmade soaps.
“We are now up to 20 full-time vendors and seven part-time, about what we started with last season, although we expect more applications to arrive in the next couple of weeks,” said Randzio.
Another “need” is volunteers, and with training set for May 29 from 4:30 to 6 p.m., the time to consider donating some time to lend a hand is drawing near.
“Roles that the volunteers handle include helping vendors transport items from their cars to their tent, answering general questions about the market, working with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients to process sales, and taking hourly customer counts,” said Randzio.
There are two flexible shifts for volunteers, starting at 10:30 a.m. to help with setup, and then again from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for the take-down process.
“Having more volunteers also helps when people take vacations,” said Randzio.
Once again an anonymous donor has provided the market with a $1,600 grant to provide additional funds for SNAP recipients.
“When our SNAP recipients have their card scanned we can in turn provide wooden coins to purchase food and plants to produce food at the market,” said Randzio. “Our anonymous grant allows us to give recipients an additional $5 in wooden coins to spend at the market on wholesome food.”
New features this season include craft demonstrations, organized by Kate Pighetti. The market season begins on May 31 with Lisa Pac from the Skyline Trading Company offering a demonstration on home brewing. Dan Osella, executive chef and owner of the Skyline Trading Company, will provide a cooking demonstration on June 7 (menu still to be determined), and on June 14, Kim McNutt from Mama Cakes will make a “naked cake.”
“Kim will be wearing clothing and the cake will be wearing lots of fresh fruit for the G-rated demo,” quipped Pighetti.
Future demonstrations will include gluten-free baking with Jacqueline Dolby of The Runamuck Baker, a chainsaw carving with Jeff Bellefleur, basics of floral arranging with Gail Kelly of Flowers by Webster, gardening tips with representatives of Kelly’s Home and Garden, and more cooking demonstrations by local chefs.
Music always makes a nice backdrop to the market festivities and again, because of a grant from the Westfield Cultural Council, musicians will be paid a small stipend to share their music with the masses each Thursday during the market season. Performers set to kick off the market season on May 31 include Ed Bentley from noon to 2 p.m., playing folk and popular tunes, followed by Eva Cappelli from 2 to 4 p.m., performing blues and jazz standards, and from 4 to 6 p.m., Marcia Hendrick and Ted Lewis, also known as Dogwalker, will sing roots, country and jazz music. On June 7, The Russellers will perform blues, country and folk vocals from noon to 2 p.m., followed by Linda O’Neill and Tom Boido, who call their band Rua Bhean, playing traditional Irish, country and R&B tunes from 2 to 4 p.m., and Bernie Dion and his family band Whiskey Traveler will perform country and popular music from 4 to 6 p.m.
“We are thankful for the grant which not only provides music to enjoy while at the market but also helps musicians get their names out for other gigs,” said Randzio.
Also, for those with gardening questions, master gardeners will be available on May 31 from 2 to 4 p.m. and again on June 7, from 2 to 4 p.m., to offer advice and answer questions. Also, master gardeners will conduct free soil testing on June 14 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
As final preparations are now being made by the executive committee, Randzio is bullish on this year’s market season.
“We have been really grateful for the support of the Westfield community,” said Randzio, adding, “We have been greeted with open arms.”
Randzio noted the market also provides an outlet for small businesses to gain exposure about their products and services.
“People have embraced the market and want it to succeed,” said Randzio. “It’s really wonderful.”
Randzio is hopeful more individuals will volunteer for the community event – and more vendors will seek out the market to showcase their products and services.
“Our total volunteer staff believe in the mission and want to get involved because it is fun,” said Randzio. “Our vendors feel the excitement and are also grateful to the volunteers for the help they provide.”
The Westfield Farmers’ Market, conducted on the lawn of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement on Court Street, runs Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m. through Oct. 4 and will return Oct. 13 from noon to 5 p.m. in conjunction with the city’s Harvest Festival. The market is open rain or shine.
For more information on the market or to volunteer, send an email to [email protected] or call (413) 562-5461, ext. 101 and leave a message.