WESTFIELD-Now in its fifth season, the Westfield Farmers’ Market is unique since it offers area residents the chance to support new businesses – as well as connect with entrepreneurs who have supported the endeavor since its inception.
The market will open on May 30 and run Thursdays through Oct. 10 from 12 to 6 p.m. on the front lawn of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement on Court Street. Free parking is available as well as a playground for youngsters.
On opening day, one of the businesses at the market will be Whip City Jerky, owned by city resident Tony Neuser.
“I love that the market is here and as a local business we wanted to participate,” said Neuser.
Neuser said his staff on hand will be selling several varieties of the company’s beef jerky and for the first time, several marinades will be available for sale.
“For the first time we are going to sell our marinades that we use for the jerky, including our popular original flavor which is our version of teriyaki, a new flavor – honey dill mustard, and black pepper curry,” said Neuser, adding, “and for the next few months, the marinades will be available exclusively through our website, store, and at the Westfield Farmers’ Market.”
For market co-managers Peter Langmore and Debbie Randzio, both members of the church, they are grateful that the market continues to thrive and attract new businesses.
“Right now, vendor applications are coming in,” said Randzio. “Bobbie Kamen from Mount Warner Vineyards will be returning this year, which is exciting, and we are waiting for responses from several potential vendors who might be new to the market this year that we’re very excited about.”
Langmore echoed those sentiments.
“We have grown this market from five vendors to close to 30 over the years,” said Langmore. “We anticipate several more of our regular vendors to return and we will always find room for more vendors.”
Applications as well as rules and regulations are available online at westfieldfarmersmarket.net and there are a variety of options for businesses to consider – from a full-time or part-time slot to trying a “drop-in” stand.
“Come and try the market,” said Langmore, emphasizing that individuals over the years have begun at the market with a product or two and now have full-fledged businesses.
Langmore also noted that credit card transactions are available through the market to assist vendors who might not have the availability to offer the service.
Another popular feature at the market is the Music at the Westfield Farmers’ Market series, funded in part by a “generous grant” by the Westfield Cultural Council. Langmore noted that musicians still have time to submit an application.
“We will post the musical schedule soon and many of the musicians and musical groups who have performed in the past will be returning this year,” said Langmore.
Of course, the market wouldn’t flourish without the many volunteers who help with set up and take down duties, as well as a variety of other tasks.
“We are always in need of more volunteers,” said Langmore, adding that details about volunteer opportunities are listed on the website.
Randzio noted that the market board recently voted to continue its $5 match for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers and are looking for ways to fund that initiative.
“It is currently funded through private donations which will run out by the end of June,” said Randzio, adding, “We just received a generous donation from Dr. John Thayer of Westfield Eye Center to help us sustain the matching program for a while longer.”
Randzio noted that with most nonprofits, funding is always a critical component of any operation.
“We have many ideas for projects and ways to promote and improve the market, but need funding to do it,” said Randzio. “We would welcome any sponsors who want to support us.”
For persons seeking additional information on the market, messages can be left at (413) 562-5461, ext. 101, or by sending an email to [email protected].
“We hope more area residents come down to the market this year, bring their family members, enjoy the music and sample some tasty offerings,” said Langmore.