A fresh strawberry aroma filled the air and gravel stirred under shoes and dog paws as shoppers crunched along the path between tents manned by farmers and artisans at Stage Fort Park Thursday afternoon.
The occasion was the opening of the Cape Ann Farmers Market for a seventh season and its third at Stage Fort, and the sunny location at the edge of the park created a pristine backdrop for the market and a festive location for kicking off summer’s eve, with a live band humming out tunes.
Paul Cohan finished setting up his tent just a few minutes after the market opened at 3 p.m. and soon visitors were already leaning in to check out his packaged smoked fish and nab a sample from a fish shaped tray. This year marks Cohan’s first year selling his Sasquatch Smokehouse fish at the farmers market. He will also debut a stand at the Rockport farmers market Saturday.
“I love just getting to talk to people and putting the personal touch on it,” Cohan said.
Another vendor with a bipersonality, Alexander Thompson, worked his Ma’s Brands pickles stand nearby. He popped the seal on a glass jar of bread and butter pickles, and jiggled the slices into a sample bowl, explaining all the while their merit.
“See the little orange bits?” he asked holding up a jar. “That’s the fresh turmeric. It gives it the flavor and the glowing color.”
Thompson’s great grandmother had passed her pickle recipe down to his grandma, then down to his grandma who raised him. The trick, he says, is using fresh turmeric rather than the dried ingredient mixed into most retail brands. Thompson only set up shop at the farmers market part time last year, but this year he will shell out his pickles each Thursday.