PORT TOWNSEND — Goats will take their traditional walk down the market stall aisles Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m. to signal the start of the 26th season of the Port Townsend Farmers Market.
A red ribbon-cutting ceremony, live music, dignitaries, speeches and festivities are planned at the market’s uptown location at the corner of Tyler and Lawrence streets. The market runs until 2 p.m.
Children and adults are encouraged to dress in animal costumes for a chance to win a $20 Flora Market token.
Always a popular community event, the market attracts a wide range of farm, artisan food and arts vendors from all across the North Olympic Peninsula. Market Director Amanda Milholland is excited about this year’s vendors.
“The quality of the vendor applications this year was really great. The diversity of the product offerings in phenomenal. We are very fortunate,” Milholland said.
“Nine new vendors will join 51 others with unique and interesting items. They will offer kombucha, cultivated and forged mushrooms, shellfish, artisan foods, and arts and crafts,” she said.
The Port Townsend Saturday Market is the largest of three that are held in the county. Along with the Port Townsend Wednesday Market and the Chimacum Market, they are operated by Jefferson County Farmers Market (JCFM), a nonprofit organization.
The JCFM partners with the Jefferson County Public Health Department to promote Women and Infant (WIC) Benefit Program and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to promote food stamp use at the markets.
Milholland said last year all three markets brought in a total of $1.3 million in sales, an increase of 11 percent over any previous year.
Last year’s Saturday Market sales totaled $1.19 million, up almost $100,000 from the previous year as well.
She attributes the growth to the community’s desire to buy local, eat local and support the local farmer and artisan.
Karyn Williams, owner of Red Dog Farm in Chimacum, has been in business for 10 years and has been a vendor all that time. She says she has never missed a market day. Her farm is 23 acres, with 17 under cultivation.
“I have a lot of hope for this season,” Williams said. “I see a lot of new and continuing energy in Port Townsend. There are a lot of new faces in town along with the long-time locals. There’s so much love and energy for the Farmers Market. I’m looking forward to greeting old and new friends on opening day.
“People want to learn more and more about local food and local farms and how to access it as well. I’m excited to be a part of it all. I’m hoping for a great market season and keep my fingers crossed the weather cooperates Saturday.”
Williams said her market sales seemed to peak in 2014.
“Since then, there’s been a plateau. We’ve had incredible sustained sales the past four years. I’m not anticipating a lot of growth and that’s OK.”
Red Dog Farm offers tulips, plant starts and salad mix early in the season. Later in the season, radishes, carrots, greens, beans and tomatoes are top sellers.
Williams said she’s added a few new offerings for April.
“Something new for this early season is that we’ve expanded our vegetable plant start offerings so we have a lot more veggies this year, in addition to our flowers and herbs starts. We’ll have 30 different varieties of plant starts ready this Saturday.”
The Saturday Market will be every Saturday through the third Saturday in December.
The Port Townsend Wednesday Market will move locations this year to the Haines Street Park & Ride. Beginning in June, it will operate as a food-only market from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The Chimacum Sunday Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June through October. It’s a more rustic version of the others, focused on farms, food, crafts and music. It’s located behind the Chimacum Corner Farmstand at the corner of Highway 19 and Center Road.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]