Mansfield Living

Farmers market grows faithful customers

Every Saturday morning, a cluster of colorful canopies pops up on the corner of Oak and Smith streets in downtown as the Mansfield Farmers Market opens for business.

The market, which has been open since May, will be open for its final Saturday this weekend before going dormant for the winter.

The vendors, marketing fruit, vegetables, handmade soap, brass bells, homemade pastries, clothing and crafts, attract a growing and faithful customer base.

“The quality of the stuff is so much higher than the grocery store,” said Rob Lawing of Mansfield. “Tomatoes in the grocery don’t taste like they did when I was a kid. The prices are good here, too. Plus, it keeps the money local. That matters.”

Market director Rex Wenger, who helped originate the farmers market in 2004, has watched the market grow, drawing more vendors and more customers over the past dozen summers. He credits the quality of the vendors.

“We never intended to make a lot of money,” Wenger said. “It’s a place for people to sell their wares, and provides a good place for people to come. I think we’ve done that.”

The market averaged 16 vendors a week and more than 300 customers, hitting a high of 25 vendors and almost 500 customers July 11, he said.

Nancy Baker’s eclectic home and garden accessory booth, Paisley Armadillo, has been a regular booth for the past two years, charming visitors with brass bells and prisms for the garden.

“Some weekends are much busier, depending on the weather and what’s going on in town,” Baker said. “You get people that know the product and they want them for their friends.”

The Mansfield resident says she also likes the atmosphere at the market, which has added live music almost every weekend this year.

“I like the people, it’s almost like a little family,” Baker said. “The music adds something. I love it when the little kids stand up there and dance.”

Marsha Marquis, who just started selling at the Mansfield market last month, likes the exposure the venue brings for her business, Mam’s Mini Cakes & More.

“I’m sad that next week is the last week,” said Marquis, who lives in Arlington. “I love meeting people and making contacts. If nothing else, the exposure is good.

“When you have a cottage business, it’s hard to make contacts with people,” she said. “Being able to be part of something like this gets that exposure.”

Although this is the final weekend for 2015, the Mansfield Farmers Market is planning to open from mid-May to October 2016 for its 13th season, Wenger said.

Mansfield Farmers Market

8 a.m.-1 p.m.

206 Smith St.