Lakewood Ranch Main Street merchants give the go-ahead to a summer outdoor market the last Saturday of the month throughout August

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The outdoor Main Street Market in Lakewood Ranch has been given the green light to continue on the fourth Saturday of the month throughout the summer.

The action follows a recent vote by the Lakewood Ranch Main Street Merchants Association, according to president Michelle Wise, owner of Main Street's Unleashed for Pets.

"The merchants said the market was very beneficial to their businesses. It brought not only existing customers to Main Street, but potential new customers to the street to find out what Lakewood Ranch Main Street offers," Wise said.

The Market on Lakewood Main Street has become a monthly event, and summer hours will begin earlier, at 8 a.m. and run until noon, in order to avoid the afternoon heat, said Jennifer McCafferty, owner of Jen's Market Inc., a Hillsborough County company that operates several weekend farmer's markets in the Tampa Bay area.

McCafferty has been leasing space on Main Street since last September and said she is excited to be continuing the market this summer.

"We're starting earlier because it gets so hot in the afternoon and we see a lot of people out in the early morning around Lakewood Ranch, riding their bicycles and walking their dogs."

The summer Main Street Market, McCafferty said, will feature, fresh, in-season produce such as watermelon and corn, and a new fish vendor with fresh fish selections of the month. About 40 local and regional vendors sell at

the market products ranging from from fresh eggs, salsa and spices to handmade cutting boards, arts and crafts, potted flowers, funnel cakes, corn dogs and deep-fried Oreo cookies for the kids.

"We're hoping to have more gluten-free products and specialty items as well, but our Wisconsin cheese vendor will be absent because of the heat. Certain products just don't do well in the summer,"

The Main Street Market also is a pet-friendly affair. Washin' Waggin, a portable pet-washing station offers on-the-spot warm, organic baths for dogs,

This Saturday, the Main Street Market will open at its regular time, 10 a.m. and run until 2 p.m., and will feature the Lakewood Ranch Humane Society, which will set up near the pet-washing station to promote its pet-adoption services.

Musical group Dean and Joe will perform on acoustic guitars with a Latin flair near the Main Street fountain, so restaurant patrons can enjoy the music while dining outside.

Parking around the market is free.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.