PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Farmers Market kicks off its 25th season Saturday with more than 70 vendors and the traditional goat parade.
The market will open for the 2017 season at 9 a.m. on Tyler Street between Lawrence and Clay streets in uptown Port Townsend. It will continue each Saturday through December.
Opening day will kick off with a ribbon-cutting by Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson.
“The chamber of commerce brings a red ribbon and a ridiculously big pair of scissors,” said Amanda Milholland, director of the Jefferson County Farmers Market Association.
Also planned are fiddle music and the annual goat parade, which has been a market tradition since it moved to its uptown location in 2003, with goats from Harmony’s Way Farm and Mystery Bay Farm.
“I’m trying to get people to dress up this year,” Milholland said. “We’re encouraging people to come in food- or market-themed costumes, so I’m hopeful we’ll get some folks out in costume to be in the parade.
“It’s just kind of a goofy thing, but it seems especially appropriate for an April 1 opening day.”
To celebrate the market’s 25th anniversary, Milholland also has organized a love letter campaign, inviting people to write letters or poems for specific vendors or just about something they love about the Saturday market.
The letters will be delivered to specific vendors or published in the market’s newsletter, which is published at www.jcfmarkets.org.
Letter writing materials will be available at the market. Letters can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to Jefferson County Farmers Market, P.O. Box 1384, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
“The point of it is giving people the opportunity to share what they like about the market and what keeps them coming back,” Milholland said. “The market is really important to this community, so I’d love to see just a letter about fresh strawberries.”
Founded in 1992, the market started with just a few vendors gathered in the alley next to Elevated Ice Cream in downtown Port Townsend. The market has now grown to include area farmers, artisans and craftspeople.
The Saturday market is the largest in Jefferson County, with more than 75 vendors signed up to participate throughout the season and more than 2,500 people passing through the market on any given Saturday.
“We’ll usually have about 70 vendors here for each market,” Milholland said. “That’s about as many people as you can fit in this space.”
The market is one of three organized by the nonprofit Jefferson County Farmers Market Association. The other two — the Wednesday evening market in uptown Port Townsend and the Sunday market at Chimacum Corner — will kick off their seasons in June.
Many of the vendors attend at least two of the three markets and, with more than 2,000 people attending the Saturday markets and roughly 500 attending the other two each week, vendors made a combined $1.2 million in sales last year, according to Milholland.
“That’s all together, so it’s not like there’s one vendor making it big,” Milholland said.
As a nonprofit, the market association takes a small percentage from each vendor to cover operating costs but doesn’t make a whole lot of money, according to Milholland.
“We’re just trying to create a viable and growing marketplace for our local farmers, artisans and vendors,” she said.
More information on the Jefferson County markets is available at www.jcfmarkets.org.