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Bridgeville farmers market vendors hoping to draw more customers

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 4:32 p.m.
Josh Llaneza of Westerville, Ohio (left) and Wes Riley of Marietta, Ohio buy some Lebanese cuisine from Hey Labouli of Brookline during Bridgeville Farmers Market.
Christine Razin of Bridgeville buys fresh produce from Brandon Kennedy of Simmons Farm in McMurray during Bridgeville Farmers Market.
Liz Calabro (left) of Bridgeville sells Mediterra bread to Sue Picard during Bridgeville Farmers Market.

Liz Calabro was busy taking down a tent at the Bridgeville Farmers Market when councilman Nino Petrocelli asked to purchase one of her last two loaves of bread.

“Half-price. I can't believe there's one loaf. Just take it today. You're a good customer, just take it,” she told him.

Petrocelli wouldn't hear of it and reached into his wallet.

Calabro, who organizes the weekly market on Washington Avenue, knows there's always time for another customer. She's hoping more patrons come down on Tuesday afternoons from 4 to 7 p.m. this summer.

“It's going really well. We have a lot of vendors. It's really cool. When people come down here, there's a lot of different things to shop for,” Calabro said.

“There's a lot of variety here...we have a lot to offer here. We just wish we would get more patrons. It's a nice, steady flow, but we can handle a lot more.”

“It's a wonderful thing. Her direction is absolutely outstanding,” Petrocelli said. “I think this is a wonderful thing for the community, it's beautiful.”

This is the fifth year for the Bridgeville Farmers Market, which runs though Sept. 23. Calabro said it has grown from six to 14 vendors.

“It's grown every year. It's grown with vendors and it's grown with patrons,” she said.

“We need more patrons. Especially if they want to keep this here. If they want to keep the market local, they really got to keep supporting it more. The ones who come always leave with a lot of bags.”

The idea was hatched with the help of Allegheny Together, a county program which assists local pedestrian-based business districts.

“They had people come in and tell you things you should be doing to liven up the town a little. We have an ice cream (place) in town, we should probably have a little grocer. We have the baker and eateries and a coffee shop. They said, ‘You should have a farmers market'.

“From there, I kept moving with it...I do whatever I can to keep this market up and going.”

Michele Owens, of Scott, who owns Shelby's Station restaurant on McLaughlin Run Road in Bridgeville, is in her second year at the market selling hot sausage and meatball hoagies, deep-fried ravioli, chicken fingers and corn dogs.

She also brings a different pasta dish every week and her daughter, Kanyon, 12, sells fresh-squeezed lemonade.

“Everything's awesome. We get a lot of repeat customers here. I make everything homemade. Customers are getting to know the food and the vendors, so they're getting a lot of repeat business here,” Owens said.

“I think it's an awesome thing to do for the community and I wish more people would take advantage of it, participate, and just come and support everybody that's in our town.”

Calabro, who works at Hickory Heights Golf Club's banquet service, said the farmers market has many benefits besides offering fresh fruits, vegetables and bakery items.

“It's important for Bridgeville because there's a lot of people who live in Bridgeville who do walk and they can walk right to the farmers market,” she said.

“There's a lot of people who walk around the area. I know people who walk here and maybe they'll go to a restaurant to have a cocktail and they'll go on their merry way. Or they'll go to another shop and come back to the market. It's really a cool thing that it's a walkable event.

“It's fresh produce right in your backyard.”

David Mayernik Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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