Officials tour permanent Farmers’ Marketplace

PARKERSBURG – West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick said he is anticipating big things for Parkersburg’s permanent Farmers’ Marketplace.

Helmick and other state and local officials toured the 113 Ann St. building, which will officially open Saturday for Parkersburg’s Winter Market.

“I’m impressed with the effort and the vision that has been put into this,” he said during Tuesday’s tour.

Crews were still working on the portion of the building that will be open Saturday, placing flooring and installing doors.

Ann Conageski, development director for Parkersburg, said the doors will be wheelchair accessible.

“Once it’s all installed you will be able to open them with a button,” she said.

Mayor Bob Newell also showed other areas of the building that will be opened in phases during the next several months. The center and largest part of the building will eventually feature walk-in refrigerators and freezers as well as kitchen areas for cooking.

Officials are looking at holding a lunch or dinner event in early November to help raise money for development of the market. Similar events are held annually at the Capitol Market in Charleston.

Helmick said several vendors from Charleston’s Capitol Market also will be selling at Saturday’s opening in Parkersburg.

Helmick also toured other areas of Parkersburg, including Point Park and the culinary school at West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s downtown campus on Market Street.

Helmick said the idea is to partner with different groups to help promote the state Department of Agriculture’s plan to have more home-grown produce in the state.

“We are consuming $7 billion in food in West Virginia, but we are growing less than $1 billion,” he said. “The opportunity is there for $6 billion for growers in West Virginia.

“We want West Virginians growing on West Virginia land food for West Virginians to consume.”