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First Market Of Season A Big Downtown Draw
Big dipper
Local business The Big Dipper brought out a variety of treats to the Farmers Market and also had some local honey for sale at their booth. Marg Jackson/The Times

The weather cooperated, the crowd turned out and booths were scattered throughout the city’s Main Street Park on Thursday for the first of the summer’s three Farmers Market nights in Escalon.

Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, the event drew plenty of vendors, some with fresh produce and flowers, others with honey and olive oil, still more with handcrafted soaps and unique wine bottle stoppers.

There was also music, face painting, food and cool drinks and treats.

Youngsters representing the K-Arrow Ranch had a table set up with fresh cherries, young Charlotte Grillo was sitting patiently in the chair as face paint artist Sonya Huff applied vibrant colors.

Modesto based Refresca By Tina had a booth there and Elias Bejar was serving up the cool drinks with a smile. For the hungry, Renee Snow had her Tacos de Nieve crew working overtime to grill up the meat and fill the dinner orders.

“I’m really excited that we got so many people,” coordinator Megan McNinch said. “We knew we had the venue, the vendors, we just needed the crowd.”

There were 22 vendors originally signed up for the inaugural market night on May 12, though a few canceled just prior to the event. But McNinch said she still has many interested and they will be adding another half dozen vendors for the June 9 market, including some that will offer cheese and do crafts.

The goal, she said, is to give those attending the market the chance to purchase some produce from the Central Valley, take home fresh flowers, enjoy a summer evening in the park and make some good memories.

“My wife said it was here so we brought the little ones out,” Jeff Grillo said of attending with his wife and daughters, Charlotte, 6, and Zoey, 4. “So far we’ve gotten an Icee and done face painting, I’m looking forward to the rest.”

McNinch said the majority of the booths featured homemade or locally produced and grown items and, given the success of the first night, they may expand the run past the July 14 date. They might go in August, after Park Fete, and continue with fall markets in September and October, possibly with a Halloween or harvest theme for October.

Megan McMenimen with The Parched Goat in Hughson had freeze dried candies for sale, sampling both freeze dried Skittle and Milk Duds for patrons to enjoy.

“Out items are carried at The Big Dipper in Escalon,” she said. “Along with the candy we also have freeze dried fruit that is all locally grown in the Valley.”

Meanwhile, the Zinc House Farms booth drew a crowd, with mushrooms, fruit, eggs and more for sale.

Paul Franzia was taking the opportunity to visit with the crowd, explaining about the various products featured at the booth.

Laticia Duenas had her ‘Girl vs. Garden’ products for sale, custom blended herbs and spices. Along with Escalon, she regularly attends the Modesto Farmers Market and has also been in Oakdale and Ripon.

“I have jerk spice, classic BBQ, I even have a cult following for my garlic,” she said of her blended spices.

Providing music on the Main Street stage was the duo of Michael and Beverly Quinn, fitting plenty of tunes in between the trains rumbling past the park.

Mom Cassey Govea said daughter Alaina, 2, was enjoying some cherries while they walked around the park, taking in the market booths.

“She loves going to Farmers Markets,” Govea said. “This is a good turnout.”

Renee Snow had her Tacos de Nieve grill fired up on Thursday evening, as a long line of hungry Farmers Market attendees were looking to purchase some dinner. Marg Jackson/The Times
Visitors flocked to the Zinc House Farms booth on Thursday at the Farmers Market in the city’s Main Street Park, learning about the mushrooms, eggs, fruit and more offered at the booth. Franzia family members manned the booth and visited with those perusing the products. Marg Jackson/The Times