Downtown Farmers’ Market celebrates Christmas in July

PARKERSBURG – A steady stream of visitors and customers helped the Downtown Farmers’ Marketplace make its fourth annual Christmas in July program a success.

On Friday, vendors decorated their booths with holiday themes and some wore Santa Claus hats as market organizers gave away free snowcones and held drawings for gift baskets.

Lewis and Gretchen Hill, owners of 2K Farm, said this is their second year participating in the market in Bicentennial Park.

“It’s been going well, the public seems to be supporting it,” Lewis Hill said of the farmers’ market program. “Especially today, the Christmas in July is always a big promotion and always a big deal. It’s enjoyable for us and for the customers.”

Both agreed that getting the word out to people about the market and its offerings has been beneficial in the past, but also is key to helping the program continue to grow and expand its offerings in the future.

As an example, there was much publicity about Friday’s Christmas in July in the weeks leading up to the event.

“The word was getting out, so this was a big deal. It’s been packed since 10 (a.m.), which is really nice,” Lewis Hill said.

From their own experiences, the Hills said the availability of fresh produce is another key factor in customer traffic. Due to this summer’s heat and then rainy weather, the couple was only recently able to begin selling their produce. In the weeks prior, they focused on selling their homemade soap and saw an immediate jump in customers when they could add their produce.

“It’s been tough this year because the weather has been horrible for us. My tomatoes were horrible. It seems like the more produce we had, the more customers we had,” he said.

Tammy Bunner is an administrative assistant in the city of Parkersburg’s Development Department, which helped organize Friday’s event. She said the market was busy with a steady stream of customers throughout the four-hour event.

“It’s probably been busier today than it was for the opening day of the market, it’s been non-stop,” she said.

While three or four vendors were offering produce on Friday, Bunner said that part of the market was slower through the first part of the summer due to weather problems.

“Once they were able to start coming on a regular basis, it seems like things picked up a little more,” she said of the produce vendors.

While the Christmas in July is one of the largest promotions of the summer, Bunner said a couple of more special programs are planned, including a back to school special in August and a sock hop in September.

David Blumig, who recently moved to Wirt County, said he and his family were visiting the market Friday for the first time to see what was available. They were enjoying the experience, which included sampling different foods and buying various products and produce.

“We will be back,” he said of the market, adding he had made three trips to his car to load other purchases on Friday.

In addition to the vendors, Friday’s program also included children’s activities like crafts sponsored by the Wood County Master Gardeners and a face painting station courtesy of the Parkersburg Actors Guild. Kiki Angelos gave a cooking demonstration.

The Downtown Farmers’ Marketplace runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays through October at Bicentennial Park.

Today is the final day of the Saturday Farmers’ Marketplace at Point Park. The Saturday market, which runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today was piloted this summer due to vendor and customer interest. About a half-dozen vendors are involved with the Saturday market.