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Crowd Gathers For Friday Night Market
For the first time out, Mike Weimer was pleased. Booths dotted the Main Street Park, kids kicked around a soccer ball, a local band featuring Escalon High School students made its debut and everyone seemed to enjoy the late summer sunshine that graced the Friday night Open Air Market in Escalon on Aug. 7.

Put on by the Escalon Main Street Association, the evening also featured a family-friendly movie, music provided by DJ Otter Bob, tours of the historic caboose adjacent to the park and the chance to visit the downtown merchants.

"I think it has gone off without a hitch for it being the first one," Weimer said as he surveyed the crowd gathered in the park. "We will have more vendors next month and you can look around and see the excitement."

Slated to run the first Friday of the month through November, the Open Air Market also hopes to wrap up in December by coordinating efforts with the Christmas on Main celebration.

For now, though, Weimer - who owns Leonardo's Café at the corner of Second and Main - is working on getting some local farmers to bring fresh produce for the next couple of months to join the merchandise booths.

"It's a nice venue," said local resident and businessman Randy Schmidt. "It will be great if there will be enough traffic to support the vendors."

Kathleen Gonzalez, who works at the Main Street office of Arthur Sipma Insurance, was busy handing out information at the Main Street Association booth and keeping track of her children, who were eating pizza as they anxiously awaited the start of the outdoor evening movie.

"I think it's awesome," Gonzalez said of the Friday night downtown gatherings highlighting the variety of businesses on Main Street. "It's a good thing for all of us."

Those attending were asked to vote on the movie to be shown in September, with 'Kung Fu Panda' leading in the early returns.

Lynnet Castaldi of A Heavenly Oasis was set up to offer free massages to help ease away the stress of the week while the local band Often Modest made its debut, to an appreciative crowd of family, friends and supporters.

"I came out to support the kids," said Cindy Byrd, noting that many of the band members take lessons at her daughter's Byrd's Main Street Music shop. "I had to come."

Among the locals on hand with booths were Lorina Cajias of Lorina's Edible Garden and Kim Groves with jewelry, crystals and gifts.

Weimer said he was pleased with the turnout for the first event, and expects the Open Air Market to gain in popularity as more people learn that it is happening, noting it gives families a way to enjoy some time together and take advantage of free entertainment.

"I think people want to get back to that," he said of spending quality family time. "I think the excitement is there, and I would say it's a success."