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Market returns bigger and better June 24

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It's kind of hard to build up something that was already great, but city of Farmington administrative assistant Lisa Dargis is up to the challenge.

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Dargis is the one who put together Farmington's Farmer's Market last summer. And now, she's gearing up to bring another one to the community this summer.

Believe it or not, she's probably going to make it bigger and better. It won't be easy, because last year's inaugural season went very well.

The 2010 Farmer's Market season opens next week, Thursday, June 24, with a special kick-off event. The city of Farmington will offer free "Chico" bags - collapsible bags that can be used to carry purchases again and again - to the first 200 visitors. It's an event that will start off a summer of fresh produce, hand-made craft sales and many musical and activity offerings.

Bigger and better

Last year's farmer's market was a big success. On the first night last year, approximately 300 people were waiting in line before the gates even opened. Every week seemed to draw a good crowd, and the number of vendors increased from 12 at the beginning of the season to 18 near the end.

In fact, it seems Farmington's residents are anxious to get this year's market open and going, too.

"Pretty much everywhere I go these days, people are asking when it's going to start again," Dargis said. "I've even had people talking about opening it sooner."

Dargis has about 15 vendors lined up for this year's opening, but she's still looking for a few more. Following last year, she polled residents to see if they had any suggestions for future markets. While the comments were positive, a few were looking for a little more in offerings, particularly in the area of hand-made crafts. As such, she's hoping to get a few more crafters registered for the summer in the next few weeks.

"We will just kind of build on the success of the first year. It was kind of a popular event and I think there are more people out there who want to stop by and check it out," Dargis said.

She's also trying something new this year by having a few food vendors with ready-to-eat items for sale. The vendors will feature items that one can get at a market, like a baked potato booth or a kettle corn stand. And to make it easier for folks to enjoy these treats, she's lined up a few picnic tables so they can have a seat while they eat.

A lot of the vendors who are featured at the Farmington Farmer's Market are local. Dargis has tried to retain vendors who farm within a 60 mile radius of the community, which is pretty easy to do, since Farmington and its surrounding townships that have quite a few family farms.

Since it is a project funded by the city of Farmington, Dargis is also using the city's web site to help market visitors have a better experience. She's got a newsletter on the web site, as well as a list of upcoming events. There are links to some of the vendors, and she plans to post recipes for some of the produce on sale. Dargis would like to have residents submit their own recipes to share with others. The first recipes will be for peppers and strawberries, but she'd like to get more.

"We tried to get people to submit recipes last year, but didn't have a lot of luck with that," she said. "We're trying to keep them in line with what's in season, too."

Scheduled events

The July 1 market will feature a Seattle bluegrass band called Not Easily Broken. There are two business nights -- July 8 and Aug. 5 -- when Farmington's businesses can come down and set up tables to promote their wares. On July 15, the Dakota Valley Arts Council and Rambling River Center will be featured local organizations.

Another Chico bag night is scheduled for July 22. July 29, will be Kids Night, where all kids will get shopping bags and get to shop vendors for their own special items. Then, on Aug. 19, the DVAC will have an art show at the market.

Dargis is still working to set up a few more events, as well. She's looking at a eco-themed night for Aug. 26, and thinks maybe she'll get another musical group to come in before the summer winds to a close.

"I'm really looking forward to all those fresh vegetables again," Dargis said. "I was kind of missing them over the summer months. I was just so used to being there every Thursday."

The market runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays from June 24 through Sept. 16. It is located at 109 Spruce St., in downtown Farmington. For more information, visit www.ci.farmington.mn.us, and click on the Farmer's Market link.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
(651) 702-0974
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