Walking into the Sandusky Farmers Market is not the same experience as entering the produce section of one of those grocery store chains. There is laughter and story telling amongst the vendors and shoppers. People are friendly and it shows in their smiles and handshakes.
The market opened Saturday for the summer. Located at Market and Hancock Streets, the market's open every Saturday through October. It has many things to offer, including locally grown produce, hanging planters, fresh honey and jam, jewelry and hand made crafts. The market manager, Ali Thompson, says that the market creates business and sustains the local economy by offering an affordable outlet for a variety of local entrepreneurs.
Many of the vendors were new to the market, such as Dawn Theyer. Theyer displayed a table of freshly picked strawberries from the quarter-acre farm her family started last fall.
Vendors and shoppers both anticipate the market's opening day.
"I've been waiting for your duck eggs all winter," said one local shopper to vendor Peter Wolfe. Wolfe sells duck eggs, chicken eggs, kettle corn and Amish-made jellies and jams.
Wolfe has been setting up shop at the market for nine years.
"I like doing it, I sell a good product and I love farming," Wolfe said. "And if anyone wants to buy me a farm that'd be welcome too," Wolfe said, joking with a customer.
Other market veterans included Barry Bergman of Bergman Orchards. "My family has been coming here for at least 25 years," Bergman said. Bergman's family grows all of their own produce on their 300-acre farm.
Looking around the market it is apparent that some of the shoppers have been attending the market for years as well. Sandusky natives Rosario and Donna Baroni have been coming to the Market since the 1980s. "They have always had the freshest selection of in-season produce," Donna Baroni said, "We love the cherries and strawberries."
Shoppers aren't the only one with favorites. A few vendors mentioned they have a favorite fruit or vegetable they enjoy growing. Rachel Dauch has a special place on her green thumb for heirloom tomatoes. This is Dauch's second year at the Market and it was the people and her knowledge of horticulture that kept her coming back to the Market.
"I like to give people growing tips," Dauch said. "A lot of time people will buy plants in a store and have bad luck because they weren't given proper growing advice."
The one common thread that keeps everyone coming back to the market is the people. And the market is always hoping for new people to come and experience what Thompson calls the "best community event Sandusky has."
The Sandusky Farmers Market takes place every Saturday in June through October from 8 a.m. - noon at Hancock and Market Streets.