Farm to Table Mixer draws crowd

PARKERSBURG – About 300 people attended the Farm to Table Mixer Friday to benefit the new Point Park Marketplace at 113 Ann St.

Butch Antolini, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, said the market is coming in at the right time.

“There is a huge movement across the country promoting locally grown products,” he said. “It’s not only produce but livestock and other items people want fresh. (West Virginia Department of Agriculture) Commissioner Walt Helmick is on board with that.”

Antolini said the Point Park Marketplace is modeled after the Capitol Market in Charleston. He said the market place has made a lot of progress since a visit by the commissioner earlier this year. Helmick was not able to attend the benefit, officials said.

A recent Food and Drug Administration announcement about a potential ban of trans fats could be a help to farmers markets.

“Farmers of all types should run that flag straight up the flag pole,” he said. “It will start to push more and more people back to the farm.”

Ann Conageski, Parkersburg development director, said about 300 people were expected to attend the benefit. She said more than 200 tickets were sold in advance and some tickets were purchased at the door.

Friday’s benefit featured hors d’oeuvres created by Chef Gene Evans, director of the Culinary Arts Academy at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and wine served at the benefit came from local wineries.

Evans’ creations for the night used produce, meat and other items grown in the state and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Evans said the academy will be a part of the marketplace.

“We will probably end up doing some demonstrations down here,” he said. “I try to make sure we get involved with the community as much as possible.”

Carol Lee Roberts, a first-year student at the academy, said preparing for the night was unlike anything she has faced.

“It was a different experience to get ready for a night like this,” she said.

Lynne Stone, co-owner of Stone Road Vineyard, near Rockport, said they are one of 21 vineyards now operating in the state.

“We were licensed in August 2011,” she said. “We’ve been growing grapes since 2004 and my husband Dave has been experimenting with the craft for many years before we went in business.”

Stone said they had to build the winery before they could apply for a license and the license must be issued before they can begin production of wine.

Candice Bandy, co-owner of Wine Tree Vineyard in Wood County, said they hope to be involved in selling their wines at the new marketplace.

“We hoping they will be able to carry our wine,” she said. “We’re not sure yet how that will work.”

Bandy said the mixer was a good night for them to showcase their wine and make a few sales.

“It has been excellent, people seem to be enjoying it,” she said.