PARKERSBURG - The Downtown Farmers' Marketplace will open this Friday for its summer season.
The market at Third and Market streets opens at 10 a.m. Friday, kicking off the season with another Big Free Flower Giveaway. The first 100 moms to stop by the Market Information Booth will get a free Dahlia Plant, courtesy of Dave's Greenhouse.
"Recognizing mother's in our community and showing them how much they are appreciated has become a tradition at the Marketplace," said Ann Conageski, development director for the city of Parkersburg. "We're fortunate to have a great partner in Dave's Greenhouse."
Organizers suggest those wanting a plant get to the event early, as in years past all 100 have been distributed in less than 30 minutes.
From 11a.m.-1p.m., Dan Cunningham, an acoustic/folk artist from Morgantown, performs live. Also known as "Pick 'N Dawg," Cunningham's New Appalachian Music incorporates the essential simplicity of the rural mountains while drawing on a diverse vocabulary of sounds. He has released five CDs, and was a semi-finalist in the song of the year contest and the acoustic roundtable worldwide singer/songwriter music search in 2011.
At noon, Gene Evans, program director for the Culinary Arts Academy at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, will hold a special cooking demonstration with some of his students. They will prepare dishes with vegetables and herbs that are typically available this time of year.
"By using local foods, Gene is showcasing 'farm to table' best practices," said Rickie Yeager, city planner and organizer with the Market. "That is one of the reasons we established a community garden at the Marketplace this year."
The community garden is adjacent to the market and was built by staff from Public Works Park's Division. The garden is sponsored in part by the city of Parkersburg and the Highmark Foundations Let's Move Cities, Towns and Counties Grant. It will be maintained by the Wood County Master Gardeners. Organizers and volunteers will establish the garden on Friday. They will plant a variety of herbs and vegetables including tomatoes, colored peppers, lettuce, yellow squash, bush beans, cucumbers, basil, swiss chard, chives and baby pumpkins.
Also new this year is the Market's Veggie Valet Program. The marketplace has made arrangements to store goods at the Blennerhasset Hotel until they can be picked up after business hours. Items will be stored at appropriate temperatures to ensure they do not go bad. The program was designed with downtown employees in mind.
"In our survey last year, several people indicated that it was difficult to purchase plants or meat products, because they didn't have any way to store them at the office. This free, new service is one way we're addressing that issue," Yeager said.
To pick-up goods, simply present a numbered ticket to the hotel's valet or front desk staff.
"Similar programs have been implemented in market's across the country," Yeager said. "We hope people will take advantage of it."
To learn more about the program, speak with an organizer at the information booth.
For more information, including a calendar of events and list of participating vendors, visit www.parkersburgfarmersmarket.com. The Downtown Farmers' Marketplace is also on Facebook and distributes a monthly newsletter. The market is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday, May through September.