BRADENTON — The chef is back, along with all the fresh produce and ingredients a budding gourmet would need to re-create his culinary masterpieces.
Organizers of the Bradenton Farmers Market hope the customers return Saturday on opening day.
Although tourist season hasn’t quite begun, hopes are high for a big turnout as the market’s second full season begins.
“I’m not sure what to expect, but I’ve had so many people e-mailing me saying, ‘I can’t wait for the market to come back,’ ” said Susan Blake, the Downtown Development Authority’s market manager.
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The market will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday until May on Old Main Street, which will be closed to traffic between Manatee and Fourth avenues west.
Blake said about 35 vendors have signed up this season. Vendor products range from vegetables, organic and locally grown produce, olive oil and bread, fresh fish, doughnuts, arts and crafts, jewelry and more.
The farmers market will feature themes each week again this year. The “Chef at the Market” cooking demonstrations will be on the first Saturday of the month, followed by raffles on the second Saturday, Mainly Art on the third Saturday and children’s activities on the fourth Saturday. Mainly Art adds about 30 more vendors, mostly local artists and craftspeople.
Greg Campbell of Mattison’s will be the featured chef this week, offering a Germanfest-themed cooking demonstration. Sundown Duo will provide the musical entertainment.
New vendors this season include a Taste of Bali, which sells sarongs and jewelry, and Butterfly Art. There also will be a tailgate party outside Cork’s Cigar Bar.
Blake said about 55,000 people attended the farmers markets this past year during its first full season. The 2008-09 market ran for only a half season. A previous farmers market was shut down after the 2006-07 season when organizing group Downtown Progress disbanded.
“It’s really important for the merchants on Old Main Street,” Blake said. “They have their storefronts open and people coming by all morning. It gives them profit at a time when things are not so good for them.”
There may soon be an online component to the farmers market. A leading vendor, Palmetto farm Green on the Gro, is trying to incorporate the farmers market into its service that allows customers to order items online and pick them up at selected sites, owner Norman Whitlow said.
The site, www.floridasuncoast.locallygrown.net, features 21 vendors and seven pick-up locations. Whitlow said he hopes to add the farmers market to the list of pick-up sites soon.