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November 14, 2012

Middle Street fest harvests local spirit

Nicole Bogin makes the whole business of event organizing sound easy as apple pie — or pumpkin pie, or pecan pie.

Or, for that matter, any of the other freshly baked holiday pies that will be flying off the shelves this Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gloucester’s second annual Cape Ann Farmers Thanksgiving Harvest Market, along with the winter squashes, root veggies, artisanal cheeses and breads and jams and honeys.

Bogin is, literally, becoming a “seasoned” pro at organizing such events. It’s second nature to her now to reel off the names of all 20 local farmers and vendors who’ll be trucking in their produce to Middle Street’s Unitarian Universalist Church at the crack of dawn this Saturday.

This time last November, Bogin, who’s been the manager and driving force behind the market since it pitched its first tents on Harbor Loop five summers ago, didn’t sound so relaxed. It was the first time out for the Thanksgiving market —a sort of “trial run”— and there was no telling how it would go.

“It went great,” says Bogin. So great, says Bogin, that this year, the Thanksgiving Harvest Market will be followed on Dec. 22nd, by a first, and bound to be bountiful, Farmers Market “Holiday Fare,” also to be held at Middle Street’s historic “UU.”

Things haven’t always gone so great for the farmers market. If ever there was proof of the maxim “location, location, location,” its first three summer locations were it. Both spots — originally Harbor Loop, followed by a move to the I-4, C-2 lot— seemed ideal in theory, but were plagued with traffic and parking issues. Then, finally, came the 2011 move to what Bogin now calls home — Stage Fort Park.

With its sparkling sea vistas, salt air, rolling lawns, picnic and music areas, and plenty of free parking, Stage Fort Park not only proved a permanent home, but an instant home run for the Thursday afternoon weekly markets, attracting peak season crowds of 1,500 to 2,000 and becoming a major tourism destination for the City of Gloucester.

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