BRADENTON -- The signs of fall are everywhere, but nothing says October quite like the kickoff event of Bradenton's downtown Farmers Market, which begins Saturday.
"The downtown Bradenton Farmers Market is one of Realize Bradenton's signature events that brings the community together every Saturday on Old Main Street," said Realize Bradenton Executive Director Johnette Isham. "The market celebrates local farmers, small businesses, artists, musicians, nonprofit organizations and community partners. This Saturday, where else can you enjoy your neighbors, shop local, Paint the Town Pink, practice yoga and learn about healthy nutrition?"
The Farmers Market opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m.
every Saturday through May. Live music is featured at every market, with Jen & Ray slated to entertain the opening-day crowd.
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This year's theme, "It's more than a market" aptly describes Realize Bradenton's goal to make the market much more than a place to shop for local goods. Popular activities like "Chef at the Market" return. Local chefs show visitors how to make delicious meals using ingredients purchased at the market.
Family friendly activities are scheduled along with new events and programs. For the first time, the market will accept EBT cards from the supplemental nutrition assistance program.
Parking is free and the market is friendly for pets secured on leashes.
Saturday's opening event will feature Paint the Town Pink, Isham said. Pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness Month will be placed and artist Brandon Scott will be painting a portrait of a person who represents everyone who has or is fighting breast cancer. The work will be donated to the Making Strides event.
"We hope market attendees will visit the Making Strides booth to learn more about the Making Strides walk this year on Oct. 24," said Isham.
Other new features include "yoga at the market," with Bradenton native Jessi Smith showing people of all ages how to practice yoga. Chef Dana Johnson of Sugar Cubed Bakery in the Village of the Arts takes on the first Chef at the Market challenge at 10 a.m. and will create fun fruit arrangements.
More than 30 vendors will be available. For more information and a full schedule, visit realizebradenton.com.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.