PORTSMOUTH—Main Street Portsmouth’s annual Farmer’s Market will soon return to the Roy Rogers Esplanade just in time to prepare for summer.
Saturday, May 21 marks the first day of the season for the market. Joseph Pratt, Executive Director of Main Street Portsmouth, is eager to see the Esplanade bustling again.
“The market is actually the only event that happens on the Esplanade annually outside of the fish fry, so we are very proud to make that our home for the market. We have the beautiful shade there, and the flowers always look great thanks to our design committee—Sue Burke and her volunteers. So bringing a little bit of life into that corner of downtown is always a great thing for us when market time comes around,” Pratt said.
By Pratt’s estimation, the market has gone on for over 10 seasons. He promises an exciting selection of vendors this year, featuring old favorites and new faces alike.
“We just cleared a new coffee trailer that will be there. They make all of their own syrups and flavors themselves. We also have a lot of new, amazing baked good vendors as well. I think it’s going to be a really good season,” Pratt said.
While those eager for summer produce may have to wait a little longer for the ripest selection, Pratt wants potential vendors to know that the market is still recruiting those who peddle their homegrown fruits and vegetables.
“We are still requesting more produce vendors. There are a lot of different vendors in the community, but a lot of them don’t grow their own produce; they buy it at auction or bulk sales. They don’t grow it themselves, but it looks like they do,” said Pratt.
Principled product standards for their selected vendors ensure that those perusing the market will choose from the highest quality produce. Pratt elaborated, “for our standards, we use cottage industry. So vendors have to grow it, make it, or raise it themselves.”
For vendors who meet these standards though, the process of signing up couldn’t be easier.
“You can either just show up to a market opening with your stuff, we will give you a location to set up, and the first day is waived free [for new vendors]. They just need to fill out their registration information in order to receive that free spot. If you want to give us a heads-up and let us know you’re coming, you can message the Main Street Portsmouth Farmer’s Market page on Facebook,” added Pratt.
Of course, Pratt knows that the wares of skillful vendors are the market’s biggest draw. But the role of the MSP Farmer’s Market in the community runs much deeper than that.
“The thing about the market is that it’s kind of a little family at this point. A lot of the vendors have been there year after year and everyone gets to know each other,” Pratt said.
And that same cordial community spirit comes with the market experience for all involved, in ways that a chain grocery store trip just can’t provide.
“My favorite thing at the end of the market is that if a produce vendor has too many tomatoes, or if a baker has too much bread, they’ll swap with each other,” Pratt said. “There’s a family bond with the market where even if I don’t purchase something from a vendor’s table, we’ll still have a good time.”
Main Street Portsmouth’s Farmer’s Market opens on Saturday, May 21, from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. on the Roy Rogers Esplanade. It will reopen at the same time every Saturday until October 1. Follow the market on Facebook for more information and updates.
Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101, ext. 1931 or by email at [email protected]
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