Summer in the city: Tacoma Farmers Market starts this week

The popular downtown event kicks off this Thursday, offering visitors a festive atmosphere of produce, plants and arts & crafts.

According to the calendar, summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21. Unofficially, however, summer arrives in downtown this Thursday, when the Tacoma Farmers Market opens to the public.

Located on Broadway between 9th and 11th streets, the Tacoma Farmers Market offers a lively street atmosphere, where visitors can choose from a smorgasbord of freshly grown produce, plants and flowers, and arts and crafts – mostly from Pierce County, but also including central and eastern Washington.

Visitors can also enjoy the musical lineup and cooking demonstrations that are also part of the annual Tacoma Farmers Market.

“It’s an unbelievable year,” said Melisa Evangelos, market manager, of the response she’s received in terms of those applying for spots at this year’s event. “We’ve had over 200 applications,” she said. “We’ll be accepting between 100 and 110.”

That’s a far cry from the first Tacoma Farmers Market, which was held in 1990 and featured just 40 vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, prepared ethnic foods and handmade crafts.

The Tacoma Farmers Market was born out of the efforts of Marcia Moe and Norma Honeysett, both of whom decided to take action after walking through a deserted, needle-strewn street in downtown.

Their hard work – along with that of many others – at creating a more animated atmosphere around Antique Row and the Theater District resulted in the very first Tacoma Farmers Market drawing crowds and becoming the well-known staple it is today.

The more active environment that has been created has been a small business incubator of sorts, drawing many people to downtown businesses and shops.

“On a good day, foot traffic is in excess of 5,000 people,” Evangelos said, hinting that number may actually be higher, as she was basing her figure on a survey conducted two or three years ago.

The 2003 Tacoma Farmers Market should have no trouble continuing to attract crowds. According to Evangelos, here is some of what visitors to this year’s Tacoma Farmers Market can expect:

– Cooking demonstrations by chefs from area restaurants, including Primo Grill and El Gaucho, and musical entertainment during most market days;

– Story hours courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library;

– Appearances by the Master Gardeners to help those who want to earn a green thumb; and

– Themed markets that will appear toward the end of the Tacoma Farmers Market’s season, in order to coincide with fall harvest activities in Pierce County.

Some new ideas are being considered for this year’s market, Evangelos said, including an additional Tacoma Farmers Market held in the evening, getting food stamp certified and applying for acceptance into a senior citizen food program that allows seniors to use food coupons to purchase fresh produce.

“It will be another source of money and a way to serve the community,” Evangeos said.

The Tacoma Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., every Thursday, from June 5 to Oct. 16.

SPECIAL EVENTS AT THIS YEAR’S TACOMA FARMERS MARKET

Thursday June 5 Opening Day courtesy of Bruce Titus Automobile Group
Chef in the Market: Charlie McManus, Primo Grill
Performance in the Market: The Fife High School Jazz Band
Fun Festivities: Join us as we celebrate the 13th Opening of the Market with special guest Mayor Baarsma. Cowbell ringing festivities begin at 12PM! Come visit the Heart & Soles Breast Cancer Foundation booth
Bring your gardening questions to the Master Gardeners booth.

Thursday June 12 courtesy of Frontier Bank
Chef in the Market: Jennifer Thorp, the Personal Gourmet
Performance in the Market: Ether Ore, cool blend of jazz, funk fusion
Fun Festivities: Bring your questions to the Master Gardener’s Booth
Come visit the YWCA Pierce County’s booth.

Thursday June 19
Chef in the Market: Diana Prine, Fife City Bar and Grill
Performance in the Market: Caribbean Visions Steel Drums
Fun Festivities: Bring your questions to the Master Gardener’s Booth
Come visit the Gateways Foundation for Youth’s booth.

Thursday June 26 courtesy of Russell
Chef in the Market: WSU demonstrates awesome Asian Stir fry
Performance in the Market: Acoustic guitar singer/songwriter Jean Mann
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Wagoneer Program courtesy of National City
Mortgage Bring your legal questions to the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Volunteer Legal Services’ booth.

Thursday July 3 courtesy of Key Bank Corporation
Chef in the Market: El Gaucho
Performance in the Market: Acoustic guitar singer/ songwriter Kelle
Bradley
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum courtesy of Columbia Bank Wagoneer Program courtesy of National City Mortgage Find out what’s happening at the Zoo this summer by visiting the Point Defiance Zoological Society booth.

Thursday July 10 courtesy of Washington State Employees Credit Union
Performance in the Market: Washington State Old Time Fiddlers
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum courtesy of Columbia Bank Wagoneer Program courtesy of National City
Mortgage Visit the City of Tacoma Public Works Department’s booth to get the latest information on composting, recycling, and waste reduction.

Thursday July 17 courtesy of Regence BlueShield
Chef in the Market: WSU demonstrates Funky Freezer Jams
Performance in the Market: Piano singer/songwriter Summer Mayne
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum courtesy of Columbia Bank Wagoneer Program courtesy of National City Mortgage Children’s entertainment and information about cooperative education in Tacoma courtesy of Jack and Jill Cooperative Preschool.

Thursday July 24 courtesy of Franke Tobey Jones
Chef in the Market: Bette Anne Curry, Capers Restaurant
Performance in the Market: Disciples of Jazz, Dixieland style
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum courtesy of Columbia Bank Wagoneer Program courtesy of National City Mortgage Kid friendly booth provided by Families for Kids.
Thursday July 31 courtesy of Sound Credit Union
Performance in the Market: Acoustic guitar singer/songwriter Jill Cohn
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum courtesy of Columbia Bank Check out the summer concert series at the Metro Parks Tacoma booth.

Thursday August 7 courtesy of Sound Transit
Chef in the Market: Dan O’Leary, The Tacoma Sheraton
Performance in the Market: Moon Yard rock n’ roll
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum courtesy of Columbia Bank.

Thursday August 14 courtesy of Columbia Northwest Mortgage
Chef in the Market: Sandra Andrews, Duris Cucumber Farms
Performance in the Market: The Bluesy Malcolm Clark
Fun Festivities: “Old McDonald’s Farm” Story telling presented by the
Tacoma Public Library 1:30PM Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum
courtesy of Columbia Bank.

Thursday August 21 courtesy of Sound Transit
Chef in the Market: El Gaucho
Performance in the Market: country Sandy Knoll
Fun Festivities: Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free Children’s admission to the Children’s Museum
courtesy of Columbia Bank Kid friendly booth provided by Grant
Cooperative Preschool.

Thursday August 28 courtesy of Columbia Bank
Chef in the Market: WSU makes happenin’ healthy snacks
Performance in the Market: Disciples of Jazz, Dixieland style
Fun Festivities: Bring your questions to the Master
Gardener’s Booth Free children’s admission to the Children’s Museum
courtesy of Columbia Bank.

Thursday September 4 courtesy of Russell
Performance in the Market: Southern blues singer/guitar Caroline Aiken

Thursday September 11 courtesy of Sound Transit

Thursday September 18 courtesy of the Port of Tacoma
Performance in the Market: Swinging and Hawaiian Captain Swing and
the Howlin’ Howlies

Thursday September 25 courtesy of Sound Transit
Chef in the Market: WSU demonstrates kicking corn relish
Performance in the Market: Nashville singer/songwriter Amelia White

Thursday October 2
Chef in the Market: WSU demonstrates sizzlin’ salsa

Thursday October 9
Fun Festivities: Visit the City of Tacoma Public Works Department’s booth to get the latest information on composting, recycling, and waste reduction.

Thursday October 16 Last Day of the 2003 Market
Performance in the Market: Singer/songwriter Madeline

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