BRADENTON -- The downtown Bradenton Farmers Market will open its new season Oct. 5 with the addition of more craft artists and a new partnership with Suncoast Food Alliance.
Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton, said the new artists will bring the number of vendors to around 40 at the market. Realize Bradenton is the nonprofit organization that manages the market.
"Every third Saturday we will have a feature of the market that's called 'Mainly Art,' which showcases local craftspeople and artists," said Isham.
The Manatee County Central Library will hold its fourth annual "Mana-Con: Comics Convention" from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. opening day. The event features comic shop booths, games, prizes, trivia, a costume competition, art workshops and a student art show.
Isham also announced a new partnership with Suncoast Food Alliance founder John Matthews.
"We are delighted to work with John Matthews, who founded the Suncoast Food Alliance in 2008, in order to offer a direct connection between regional food producers and the public," said Isham.
"We envision the market growing in leaps and bounds with this new partnership."
Matthews, who serves on the Florida Association of Community Farmers Markets board, said his enterprise will help manage the day-to-day operations of the market and attract more independent food producers.
"The Bradenton Farmers Market has already put down deep roots in our community," said Matthews. "In the months ahead, I'll be engaging with regional culinary and agricultural leaders to get on board and help us offer new features and programs. Manatee County's food-growing industry is just as vital to the local economy as our beaches, climate and cultural amenities."
Dave Shiplett, chef-owner of Soma Creek Side, a popular eatery that will soon relocate to Bradenton, said he buys most of his produce, dairy goods and fish from the Bradenton Farmers Market.
"It's a great source for fresh, locally produced foods and artisanal goods," Shiplett said. "When you buy from local growers, you know where your food comes from and you can ask how it's grown."
The market, supported by the Downtown Development Authority, will open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday starting Oct. 5 on Old Main Street between Manatee and Fourth avenues west in downtown Bradenton.
Parking is free and dogs on leashes are welcome.
For more information about the Bradenton Farmers Market, go to bradentonfarmersmarket.com.