PARKERSBURG - A new era for the Downtown Farmers' Marketplace kicks off Thursday with new hours in a new location, all year long.
In its first six years, the market was open a couple days a week for a few months of the year, with winter markets held periodically during colder months. But now that it's moved from the tent in Bicentennial Park to the Point Park Marketplace at 113 Ann St., the plan is to keep it open Thursday through Saturday year-round.
"Hopefully it's going to become a destination point for Parkersburg," Mayor Bob Newell said, adding that he'd like to see it eventually open every day.
For now, the hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. those three days. The renovated building will play host to 11 vendors indoors and outside this week. More will be added as the year goes on, some rotating seasonally, while others will be set up week in and week out.
Among those will be Mark Mahoney, who recently returned to this area, where his wife Sebrina grew up. Together, they've started the All-American Kettle Corn Co,
"We knew the new farmers market was coming in, and we thought it would be a good opportunity for us," Mahoney said. "We want to be central right here in town."
Downtown Farmers' Marketplace
* Opens Thursday
* Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
* Location: Point Park Marketplace, 113 Ann St., Parkersburg
While the market will be open Thursday and Friday, the grand opening festivities are being saved for Saturday, when children can attend, said Kim Gant, the mayor's assistant and liaison for the market.
"On Saturday, we'll have crafts for the kids," she said. "We're giving away 100 free flowers to the first 100 moms," an annual tradition for the market.
Newell said children are a big part of the plans for the market, which received a grant from Highmark West Virginia for educational activities. That money will fund a greenhouse, which, along with a community garden, is expected to make the market a destination for field trips where kids can learn about healthy food and growing plants.
"We want it to be a place for educating students," Newell said.
The Department of Agriculture will assist with management of the market, which will also be staffed as needed by seniors affiliated with the National Council on Aging. The department has helped the city get in touch with vendors from around the state of West Virginia to supplement the market's offerings.
"The success of the market really depends on a constant supply of fresh produce," Newell said.
The revamped market is overseen by a board of directors whose members were nominated by the Department of Agriculture and the mayor's office and approved by the Municipal Building Commission, which owns the marketplace on behalf of the city.
Newell said people interested in being vendors at the market can contact Gant at 304-424-8420. Prices vary depending on the location.