Ligonier, Latrobe, Keystone State Park farmers markets return
Growers, makers and bakers are grateful that summer is near and farmers markets are returning for the season.
Ligonier Country Market, Latrobe Farmers Market and Keystone State Park Farmers Market are preparing for another summer.
Jim Mikula, who manages both the Latrobe and Keystone markets, said he has seen interest grow like the fruits and vegetables many vendors bring to sell.
“I think that whole ‘eat fresh, eat local' is catching on, and more people are taking advantage of that at the markets,” he said.
Each market continues to grow, including the weekly event in the state park, now in its fourth year.
Visitors often drop by after church to the Sunday market to browse the 15 to 20 vendors, including Mikula's booth of handmade quilts.
“We get more customers every year. We get more vendors every year,” he said, including regulars who browse the vendors featuring plants, honey, kettle corn, fruit and vegetables. “I look forward to catching up with them again.”
While vendors won't set up at the state park until Sunday, the Ligonier Country Market is under way with its first Saturday affair held on May 17.
While the fresh produce, handmade crafts and home-baked goods attract a steady crowd, similar to Keystone, many come to the market for the social atmosphere. Neighbors, relatives and old friends greet one another as they stroll up and down the aisles of vendor tents.
“This is a community-based project for the people of our community,” said special features committee member Lois Manon of Ligonier. “People have access to fresh produce, meat, baked goods, as well as being able to sell produce there. And it attracts people from out of the area. It gives them a destination, a beginning to their Laurel Highlands experience.”
The market, near the intersection of West Main Street and Route 30, is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday through the first week of October, rain or shine, with an average of 130 vendors per week.
New this year in Ligonier, Chef Mark Henry of Chef Mark's Palate in Unity will give cooking demonstrations four times throughout the season, said volunteer Linda Sinemus.
“We are asking local farmers to donate produce for his demos and will give them recognition for doing so,” she said.
Special features entertainment will continue every Saturday, providing a mix of musical styles.
“This year's lineup is the best ever,” Sinemus said. “There will be lots of music, the most we have ever had.”
Music will kick off Latrobe's market for the first time this year with a collaboration between the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program and Deputy Mayor Mike Skapura, who will bring his group The Polka Pals to perform.
The first Latrobe Farmers Market will hold regular hours from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, but some vendors will hold over for the live music at 6 p.m.
Nick Felice, executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization program, said he will gauge visitors' reactions to determine whether music will become a regular feature like in Ligonier.
“I'm hopeful to see something grow out of that. I'm quite open to something along those lines,” Felice said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.