Logan Flanigan and Brazos Ebner run Chet's Italian Ice booth
It is said that abs are made in the kitchen. So this year our summer fitness series will take a closer look at the local farmers markets, which help us keep trim and fit during beach season.
We’ll start with the Wethersfield Farmers Market, which runs from mid-May through the end of October and is the place to be every Thursday from 3-6 p.m.
The area outside of the Solomon Welles House at 220 Hartford Avenue in Old Wethersfield transforms into a summer hotspot with a variety of vendors serving up fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, arts and crafts, entertainment, and much more.
The market is managed and maintained by a wonderful staff, ensuring that the weekly festival is an entertaining event for the whole family.
“We’ve grown with the times. We have live music every week. We’ve made it pet friendly and kid friendly. People wanted food trucks and now we now have food trucks. Every year people put in suggestions. We listen to the customers, we listen to the vendors and we do it because if we just sold carrots and corn we’d have ten people here,” said Doug Sacks, whose official title is Market Master, “It’s a destination event every week. A lot of families come and they’ll spread out a picnic and have dinner here and listen to music.”
Sacks runs the weekly festivities with Stephanie Jarm, Linda Neilson, Lina Pardo, and Claire Lewis, who captures photos for the website and Facebook page.
Last Thursday featured music by the talented Gracie Elizabeth Day and was the Pie Eating Contest, where yours truly was a participant. Kids and adults competed to see who could consume the most pie in a six-minute span. The delicious pies where made by East Hartford-based Granny’s Pie Factory, who is one of the many vendors at the market.
Vendor Ginger Smith, who owns Ginger’s Jams & Jellies, is a staple at the market and is helping make the community and the world a better place. The sale of her jarred deliciousness is used to help an orphanage in Honduras.
“I saw they had a lot of financial needs and so I had to find out how I could help. I decided to donate all the proceeds from this, minus the glass jars, and in the fall I make soups and sell them. Then I go down there and cook American food for the children, I take them on a daytrip to the waterpark, and I buy things,” said Smith, who first discovered the orphanages’ needs during a medical mission to Central America, “In May I had to buy a washing machine, because theirs had broken and they were doing everything by hand. Last Fall I had to buy a standup refrigerator with no freezer, because the produce was spoiling because they had so much and the last refrigerator I bought was not big enough to accommodate all the produce.”
Smith, whose business is based out of Wethersfield, was inspired to start making jams and jellies 30 years ago when her family had picked too many strawberries and they needed to figure out a way to use the access fruits.
Pet Wants from South Glastonbury is looking out for the wellbeing of our four legged friends, selling fresh and local dog food and supplies.
“We have our own food and all of our food is super, super fresh, which is nice because some foods you don't know how long they have been sitting. We get it within 30 days of being manufactured and it’s also made in small batches, which helps it maintain its nutritional value,” said store manager Elizabeth Boucher, who added that the company also offers treats, sprays, and other canine essentials, ” We offer free delivery. That’s kind of the premise behind our company. We try to make it as convenient for people as possible.”
Vendor Erin Daly, owner of Bread and Breakfast, offers healthy and tasty baked goods.
“I was tired of going into grocery stores and seeing products that I couldn’t pronounce even half of the ingredients. My goal is to make indulgent treats, but with ingredients that were pronounceable and real,” said Daly, who bakes her goodies out of a commercial kitchen in Bristol and wholesales her products in Bagels Plus and Rebel Dog Coffee Co. in Plainville, “This all started out of a food blog that I was writing. I started to blog every week and people started asking if they could buy what was on the blog. It all started with my banana breads, which were my first experiments.”
Other vendors include Chet’s Italian Ice, which has become a regular at the local outdoor festivals. Chet’s serves up seasonal flavors of Italian Ice, made with real fruits and all-natural ingredients.
“We definitely like Farmers Markets. What's nice about them is that it’s small town America and everyone comes out. It’s a big meeting place for everyone in town,” said manager Logan Flanigan.
All of the market vendors feature locally grown foods or products made in American, including Sweet Madeline’s Homemade Donuts, CT Gourmet Breads, Sweet Pea Cheese, Broad Brook Beef, Phoenix Farm, Wholly Goat Farm and many more. For a complete list of the vendors or if you’re interested in becoming a vendor or for a calendar of upcoming events, you can check of the market’s website at wfmarket.org
“We start taking bookings in February and March, but throughout the season if there is something unique we’ll make room for it,” added Sacks, who has seen the market grown a lot over the past decade, “The first four years we were on a little patch of lawn outside the Keeney Center, but we outgrew it. We went from 10 to 30 vendors overnight and we needed a bigger space so we rent this from the town and it's a beautiful location and everybody likes it.”
Everybody does like Wethersfield’s Farmer Market and, despite having a small stomachache from eating 19.7 ounces of pie, the market is highly recommended and is a must-visit for anyone looking for an enjoyable night in one of Connecticut’s most historic towns.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin