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Ligonier Country Market to celebrates National Farmers Market Week

Mary Pickels
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Photos: Courtesy of Ligonier Country Market
Cari Frei, executive director of the Ligonier Country Market, is preparing for the market’s participation in National Farmers Market Week.
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Photos: Courtesy of Ligonier Country Market
Those attending an earlier Harvest Dinner enjoy the appetizer selection. All appetizers, desserts and door prizes are items that can be found at Ligonier Country Market.

For the third year, Ligonier Country Market will participate in National Farmers Market Week, being observed Aug. 4-10.

The Farmers Market Coalition puts together a program and makes suggestions to farmers market operators, says Cari Frei, the market’s executive director.

Among those programs is a poster contest. And for three years, the market has won that contest in the “fan favorite” category. That status helps to promote the local market nationally, Frei points out, with the poster on display at Farm Aid, contest sponsor.

This year the market will celebrate the week during its Aug. 10 market, held 8 a.m. to noon at the Loyalhanna Watershed Farm.

The popular butterfly release will again be held, with children given the opportunity to release 25 Painted Lady butterflies and 25 Monarch butterflies into the wild.

“We average about 50 kids a week (at the Children’s Garden),” she says. Releasing the butterflies offers a chance to educate participating children on the important role butterflies play in pollination, Frei adds.

As it does every week, the Aug. 10 market will include musical entertainment. Scheduled are market vendor Jeff DeMao who will play live, and Amy Clarke on the autoharp and leading the crowd in a “Ligonier Country Market Song” singalong.

Supporting farmers markets

According to its website, the Farmers Market Coalition holds the annual celebration to showcase the value that farmers markets bring to their local communities.

“It’s important in general because our weather patterns are changing so much and the way farmers produce crops is changing,” Frei says.

Supporting farmers early in the season helps them redistribute the funds and start new growth, Frei says.

Supporting farmers markets is a way to honor those in sometimes “thankless jobs,” Frei says, who sometimes skip vacations to milk cows or put in their crops.

“We invite everyone in our community to visit the market Aug. 10 to celebrate with us, and to participate in the farm-to-table lifestyle by eating nutritious, locally sourced foods and supporting local farmers and food producers,” Frei says.

Heaping harvest

The day will conclude with the fourth annual Harvest Dinner, scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Loyalhanna Watershed Association’s Nimick Family Education Center, the renovated historic barn overlooking the market grounds.

The dinner is a collaboration between the association and the market, and proceeds support the Watershed Association’s education programs, offered at no charge to area students and youth clubs, Frei says.

“This is our way of giving back to the community as a whole. A local chef takes care of the menu,” she says. This year that chef is Shay McDonald from the newly opened Ligonier Tavern & Table. Ligonier Country Market vendors contribute the appetizer and dessert courses, and provide door prizes.

The first year, she says, guests were asked to bring their own plates. In succeeding years they brought glassware and flatware.

This time guests are asked to bring their own linen napkins for use at next year’s dinner. You don’t end up with your own. It’s kind of a quirky thing. You see people looking for their plates, Frei says, laughing.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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