The growing popularity of the Greater Watertown-North Country Farm & Craft Market persuaded organizers to expand the events presence.

Aside from having vendors line up along Washington Street, merchants made use of available spaces on Sterling Street last year. This will continue today when the farmers market opens for its 43rd season.

For the first time in the event’s history, an opening ceremony will be held this morning at 11 a.m. on the lawn of City Hall to herald the new season. This will be followed by a musical performance by Ryan Grant.

Organized each year by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, the farmers market will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Wednesday through Oct. 2. The first event was held in 1977, making this the longest-running and largest farmers market in the north country.

“With 70 vendors signed up, the farmers market will take place on Washington Street and along an expanded section on Sterling Street. As was done last year, Sterling Street near City Hall will be closed off to motor vehicle traffic during the hours of the market,” according to a story published Tuesday by the Watertown Daily Times. “The new vendors include Great Northern Slime, Skewed Brewing and Ruff Farms, Three Mile Bay. Many of the longtime vendors are returning. Starting on June 26, a shuttle service will again be offered. Running about every 20 minutes, the first pickup location will be at the JB Wise parking lot at the Mayor Joseph M. Butler Pavilion. The shuttle will head to the Strauss Memorial Walkway and then to the Marshall Place parking lot.

“The farmers market lunchtime music program also will be back this summer with a variety of musicians performing on the front lawn of City Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” the story reported. “As in previous years, vendors will accept EBT and WIC, which allows people who have food stamp benefits to buy fruits and vegetables. … In 2018, the chamber increased its capacity for growth by introducing a new logo, launching a new, user-friendly website, expanding down Sterling Street and further developing a social media presence.”

The Watertown City Council approved the use of the shuttle service in 2017 to alleviate parking problems. This was a wonderful addition, and we’re pleased that it will continue. For people who work throughout downtown, this service will allow them to take the shuttle to the market rather than driving to the event.

Farmers markets are starting to open not just in Watertown but throughout Northern New York. They are a sign that warmer weather is on its way. They also permit people to buy fresh produce from farmers in the area as well as merchandise from local vendors.

Thousands of shoppers each week peruse the many crafts and gift items on display while sampling the food by vendors from throughout the region. The Greater Watertown-North Country Farm & Craft Market is an event that many people eagerly anticipate each year. As it benefits farmers and businesses, it’s an annual tradition well worth supporting.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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