Farmington Market celebrates the 4th with music and more

Abraham Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln
Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln (portrayed by Ron and Tina Carley) will appear at Saturday’s Market. (Farmington Farmers Market)

The Farmington Farmers Market will celebrate the 4th of July with the return of a veteran farm family, music, new vendors, and some patriotic fun.

Farmington resident and former Farmington High School teacher Dave Catherton continues his 4th of July tradition of singing at the opening bell.

“The 40-plus members of my choral group haven’t been able to get together, so I’m glad for the opportunity to get in some vocal time here at the market,” said Catherton, who said he has attended the market just about every week.

The market has also received late notice that President and Mrs. Lincoln will be in attendance arriving mid-morning.

While the market’s “official hours” are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Market Manager Walt Gajewski says coming a little early isn’t a problem on a holiday weekend.

“We always tell our vendors to be ready to go by 8:30 anyway, that’s our goal,” said Gajewski. “It looks like it’s going to be hot through the weekend but the mornings have been beautiful, so early birds are welcome…or as I like to say, hey there ain’t no doors on the place!”

Bill Gass Centennial Farm
Bill Gass will be bringing a variety of lettuce to the market this week. (Farmington Farmers Market)

Gass Centennial Farm returns

Notable this week is the return of farmer Bill Gass, who has been coming to Farmington since the market first opened back in 1993. Gass, who operates a centennial farm in Ray, Michigan, a few miles east of Romeo, takes pride in his lettuce and grows a full variety, from butter bibb and romaine to a colorful spicy mix with arugula and mesclun.

“My lettuce is looking so beautiful this year!” Gass said. The family will be setting up on Market Street (west of the Walter Sundquist Pavilion), which will be closed on Saturdays to extend the market’s footprint for social distancing. “I just love the Farmington community. Being out on the street will be like spending a day with friends. I’ll be the happiest guy in Farmington this Saturday.”

Other produce available this week will include baby kale, collard greens, green beans, peas, cukes, beets, lettuce, zucchini, broccolini, Asian greens, squash, sprouts, radishes, onions, tomatoes, strawberries, cherries and raspberries. Vendors moving out onto Market Street include R&B Miller Farms, Beaverland Farms, Farm & Forest, and many other prepared food and craft vendors.

New vendors include:

  • Wright Designs, known for their local photography
  • The Main Squeeze, LLC with fresh squeezed lemonade and a variety of Hawaiian shaved ice, and
  • Letters to Sarah, with exquisite hand made design in jewelry
Mark Reitenga
Mark Reitenga will bring music to the market starting at 10 a.m. (Farmington Farmers Market)

Safely phasing in changes

Gajewski and the Friends of the Market volunteers carefully open the market each week, emphasizing social distancing and wearing masks, while also phasing in loosened restrictions. Music has made a return, with Mark Reitenga appearing at the market for his 16th season. He plays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Not every market has music, much less the physical space to accommodate it during the pandemic,” said Gajewski. “We are fortunate that music can now return as the restrictions require musicians to play away from where vendors are set up and engaging with customers. Such is the beauty of Riley Park.”

Gajewski also expressed his thanks to the market community for washing their hands and wearing masks at the market, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We have done so well so far with re-opening,” he said. “We have more than a dozen volunteers who dedicate their time to help out, and no one has gotten sick with going on a full two months under our belts. Let’s stay in this together!”

Market Bags
A canvas market bag like this can be yours with a donation. (Farmington Farmers Market)

This week also marks the return of washable, canvas market bags, which will be available through the Friends of the Market tent at the west entrance. Volunteer coordinator Mary Martin says market bags are always “a fast go” at the market and a great way to reduce the use of plastic.

This year, market bags are available for a donation, starting at $1, Martin said. “We hope people might offer a bit more, as the market is struggling to operate with funding. We are a nonprofit …there’s no tax supporting dollars, so every little bit helps the market go.”

Vote 4 the Best

The market has taken extraordinary measures to open and safely serve the public as an essential service providing direct access to fresh grown produce. Consider taking a moment out in the shade to vote for your favorite farmers market in the annual VOTE4THEBEST competition going on now through July 15. To vote for both the market and the Farmington Civic Theater, visit thefct.com.

“Music Makes the Market” is made possible through Wright Beamer Attorneys, Farmington Hills and the accountants at Montgomery, Wiethorn, Burke, Mackinder & Dye.

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