WILKES-BARRE — Three young men were walking around the Farmers’ Market on Thursday around noon and one of them said, “Wow, there sure are a lot of good smells here.”
An accurate assessment of the opening of the 40th Farmers’ Market on Public Square. But the smells weren’t the only things for the senses to enjoy — there were tastes, bargains, music, sunshine and fun.
“There’s lots of stuff here,” said Debbie Rutkoski of Larksville, who was on her lunch break from her job at Wilkes University. “This is so good for the downtown. I wish there were more events on Public Square.”
Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City Partnership, the key downtown management organization in the city, said there will be more events downtown. He said the Farmers’ Market is the embodiment of a city’s downtown.
“Cities grew as marketplaces,” he said. “The Farmers’ Market fundamentally is what a city is supposed to be all about. It’s a destination for the entire spectrum of the community. You see everyone on Public Square on Farmers’ Market day.”
City Administrator Marie McCormick opened the day with a tribute to Lore Majikes, the city’s special-events coordinator who is retiring later this year. Majikes has overseen the growth of the market in her nine years on the job.
“It’s sad to be leaving a job I’ve loved for so long,” she said. “But I love the job I’m going to — being a grandmother and helping care for my grandson.”
The outdoor market is held every Thursday through Nov. 21 and brings together many community groups through special programming and events.
The national anthem was performed by Mary Simmons and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Jim Walsh, a World War II veteran who spearheaded the drive to place American flags around Public Square and on the Market Street Bridge.
Fun events for all ages
Every week, the city will hold free events for children and families in cooperation with different community organizations, including storytelling, discovering nature, performing arts day, children’s day, and college student day. In addition to the scheduled events, the Music at the Market series will bring area bands to the Square at noon.
Some new vendors this year included Boyer’s Catering, Art Street USA, Mr. Nippy’s ice cream and milkshakes, Uncle Paul’s Snowballs, Hayley Cakes, Prana Yoga and Dicton Kleinsasser, a new farmer.
Majikes said the traditional attractions offer plenty of local produce, flowers, artisan breads, baked goods, craft vendors and more.
Laura Garron of Little Flower Manor nursing home said seven residents were enjoying the outdoors at the market.
“They like to check out all of the stands and get something to eat,” she said. “They really like sitting in the shade and watching the goings on.”
Amanda Brooks said she and her husband and three children welcome the Farmers’ Market and enjoy all it has to offer.
“It’s a beautiful day,” she said. “We like to support the local farmers and the kids look forward to the food.”
Emily Pickett, who works at Coughlin High School, brought her son to what he calls “the triangle.” She bought some broccoli and looks forward to future weeks of fresh vegetables and fruit.
A weekly habit for some
Adrienne Sons of Plymouth Township was on her lunch break from The Guard Insurance Group, shopping for flowers and vegetables.
“I’ll be here every Thursday,” she said. “I didn’t know it was starting today, but when I came into work I saw the tents set up, I knew I’d be coming over to check everything out.”
Albert Broyan, of Broyan’s Farm Produce of Nescopeck, was sold out of most of what he brought — kohlrabi, peas and broccoli. He said his crops are doing well and each week he will be offering more and more items.
“We’re still at least two weeks away from having corn, cucumbers and tomatoes,” he said. “But I love coming here — it’s like a vacation. If I stayed home, I’d be working in the fields.”