April showers, market flowers

April 22, 2014

By Peter Clark

First farmers market of the season finds a hardy crowd despite wet conditions

Photos by Greg Farrar Siddharth Bhatia, of Issaquah, holds daughter Saisha, 3, on his back as they wait for a food order from the Simply Mediterranean vendor April 19 during the Issaquah Farmers Market season premiere at Pickering Farm.

Photos by Greg Farrar
Siddharth Bhatia, of Issaquah, holds daughter Saisha, 3, on his back as they wait for a food order from the Simply Mediterranean vendor April 19 during the Issaquah Farmers Market season premiere at Pickering Farm.

 

The 2014 Issaquah Farmers Market season got off to a wet start April 18.

The rain, which fell just before noon, did little to keep the usual Pickering Farm crowds from the host of vendors, exhibitors, farmers and demonstrations. It was the first day of this season’s market, which will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 11, rain or shine.

Even though the crowds on the opening day didn’t equal the sizes of the city-estimated 8,500 high numbers on a sunny summer day, the large group that made its way through the stalls April 19 had a lot of enthusiasm for the return of the favorite local event.

“We wait for it all year,” Cara Cashman said with a large grin. “We come almost every Saturday.”

Her two daughters sat on either side, happily munching on some of the many snacks available from the booths.

“We come for the pizza,” Cashman said, holding a generous helping of pepperoni pizza. “And, we come for the flowers, of course.”

Some look forward to the event, even those living thousands of miles away.

Where to park

As Costco continues to build a parking structure behind Pickering Barn, attendees will again have to park further away. Turning onto 10th Avenue Northwest from Northwest Sammamish Road, pass the barn and take a left on Lake Drive. Available parking will be about 500 feet down the road. The city provides handicapped-parking spaces and pick-up/drop-off points closer to the market.

“We came all the way from Minnesota,” Joann Schoen said with enthusiasm, though she admitted she didn’t travel here only because of the market. “Our son and daughter-in-law live here.”

Holding a basket of fresh asparagus, she said it was not her first time visiting the market and she hoped it wasn’t the last.

“It’s a great spot,” she said.

This season’s schedule looks as busy as every year, welcoming the usual seasonal produce, flowers, baked goods and activities for children. The market will also feature cooking demonstrations, crafts, concerts and gardening tips from Seattle Tilth educators.

Opening day of the market featured Earth Day events around Pickering Barn as well as a traditional Irish music concert.

Vendors were just as eager to get in on the excitement with many returning booths opening their awnings to hungry crowds.

“We’ve been here for five years and we love coming back,” Brandon Salmeria said while manning the Wiseguy Dinner Club booth.

Passers-by can easily smell the Italian meatballs cooking and the booth usually has a large crowd eager to buy them.

“We’re usually the sell-out booth,” Salmeria said.

The market also allows vendors to return home.

“I used to live here in Issaquah,” Joyce Behrendt said while selling eggs, spinach and other veggies grown on her Ode to Joy Farm. “I moved away because I wanted a farm. But I’ve been back here selling for three years.”

The regular event has allowed the establishment of businesses to see regular visitors every week.

“It’s a good thing the response has been really good,” Greg Abajian said while brewing up a fresh pot at his Mt. Si Coffee Roasters booth. “We’ve been here four years, and I’ve been trying to keep up all morning.”

While he welcomes the market’s return, it does come with some sacrifices.

“Oh, it’s a good thing and a bad thing,” Abajian said with a smile. “Now, I’ve got to get up early every Saturday.”

 

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