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June 19, 2013

Biggest farmers market yet kicks off season tomorrow

Cape Ann Farmers Market will usher in the start of summer just a day before the solstice when it opens Thursday for its seventh year.

The market, which will host even more vendors this year than last, will occupy Stage Fort Park every Thursday through Oct. 10 between 3 and 6:30 p.m., with farmers, cheese makers, other local food producers and a few crafters manning tents and carts, according to organizer Nicole Bogin.

“It’s definitely bigger, our biggest market yet,” Bogin said. “Our focus is on food, nutrition, fitness, education and conservation, but we also do have some crafters.”

The market began with seven vendors seven years ago, grew to 15 when based at Harbor Loop, and then three years ago, a big move to Stage Fort Park expanded the entire market.

This year will see up to 59 vendors at the park on Thursdays, with some of the vendors only setting up every other week or once a month, and others coming each Thursday. Fifteen of those vendors are new this year.

Vendors at the market are all based within a 100-mile radius of Gloucester.

The market’s offerings include smoked and cured fish, a local seafood stand, Lebanese breads, cheeses, wines, micro greens, and dehydrated vegetables, to name some of the newcomers. These vendors will sell alongside with the farmers, the kids tent and the local musicians that customers have grown to expect.

“Now that we’re at Stage Fort Park and we’re really nice and established, we’re really starting to see the audience broadening,” Bogin said.

With the sprouting of more vendors and the location change, said Bogin, the farmers market began seeing more tourists plan a visit to the market into their Cape Ann vacations, but also observed Cape Ann residents becoming regulars.

“We’ve grown in terms of our customer base in Gloucester and it’s not just the diehard foodies anymore, but people who are interested in having broader access to local foods and more choices,” Bogin said.

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