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Turlock's two farmers' markets to open on Saturday
TCFM prepares for first season at fairgrounds
Farmers Market pic1
This Saturday is the start of the farmers market season in Turlock, as the Turlock Certified Farmers Market is set to open at the fairgrounds and the Turlock Downtown Farmers' Market will operate on E. Main Street, both from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. - photo by Journal file photo

Farmers’ market season has finally arrived and this year Turlockers will have two options when it comes to shopping for fresh produce and locally made products.

The Turlock Certified Farmers’ Market will open for its seventh season and first time at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds at 8 a.m. Saturday. Along with a new venue —TCFM moved from its original downtown Turlock location to the fairgrounds following the Turlock City Council's decision to open up the downtown farmers market to a bid process — TCFM will also have significantly more vendors than in previous years and a variety of new products for sale.

“There are several new vendors this season to round out the selection of items that the community can find at our market. We are excited to have a greater variety of produce and products,” said TCFM Market Manager Derek Griffin.

TCFM will feature 50 vendors on opening day, with new offerings like artichokes, avocados, lettuce greens and mushrooms, along with TCFM's regular growers like Ellie and Charley's Natural Garden and Cottage Blueberries.

Griffin said that new vendors from the Central Coast area will not only offer produce that isn't grown locally, but will also supplement fruits and vegetables grown locally but only for a short time due to the Valley heat.

"We'll be able to hold strawberries, blueberries and blackberries at the market longer than we ever had before without impacting local growers," said Griffin.

New TCFM  vendors include: Carnivore’s BBQ, Rock Pizza, Rosa’s Bakery, Boggeri & Christopher Farms, Rhodes Farms, A-Z Farms, La Mo Coffee, Paracord Crafts, Chessie’s Dreamery, Ledesma Farms and Rodriguez Farms.

TCFM will also have a number of family-friendly activities on opening day, including a kiddie train ride courtesy of Resendiz Fruit Barn. The Turlock Story Tent will be there to spread a love of reading, a children's craft area, face painting and a May Pole dance once an hour.

Music will be in the air on Saturday as local Blues band Tony & the Tuff Times is set to perform from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stanislaus State radio station KCSS will also be broadcasting live from the farmers market.

“TCFM has always been a great place to come for community, good food, wonderful produce, and unique hand crafted goods,” stated TCFM Board Chair Elizabeth Claes. “Even though we have a new, fabulous location, the essence of who we are is still the same. People are the reason that TCFM is so great, and I’m looking forward to a fantastic season.”

The market will be located on the west side of the fairgrounds on Soderquist Road. Shoppers can park for free across the street in the West Parking Lot and will enter the grounds through the Hilmar Cheese Gate (West Gate). There is no cost to enter to get into the market.

Turlockers can also find a variety of local produce and products at the Turlock Downtown Farmers' Market, which opens for its inaugural season at 8 a.m. Saturday on E. Main Street, between Center and Palm streets. Golden State Farmers Market Association, owned by local grower Peter Cipponeri, was awarded the contract to operate a downtown Turlock farmers market by the City Council in March.

Turlock Downtown Farmers' Market will offer a variety of both local and regional produce and products, such as cherries, apricots, peaches, lettuce, spinach, kale and beets. Cipponeri said they will have three strawberry growers coming from Watsonville, two organic and one conventional. Another highlight will be Tres Bien Creamery out of Willits, California, which specializes in goat cheese and goat/cow mixed cheeses.

"We're very excited about opening day," said Cipponeri.

Along with seasonal favorites, the Downtown market will also offer a variety of new vendors bringing in the flavors of Mexican, Italian, Portuguese and Assyrian cuisine. Cannoli Corleone, Elvia’s Taqueria, M&S Portuguese Bakery and Sunrise Bakery are just a few vendors that will bring an international flare to the market.

Cipponeri did not have an exact number of vendors that will be at the market for opening day, but said the market will boast 40 vendors by June.

”It's been our main struggle that a lot of vendors are nervous because of the controversy," he said.

Kids attending the Downtown Farmers' Market will be able to see a magic show, have their faces painted and see a fire truck. Bay Area cover band Nova will also be providing live music during the market.

Both the Turlock Certified Farmers Market and Turlock Downtown Farmers' Market are set to run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday from May through October. The TCFM will take a short break on July 9 and 16 while the Stanislaus County Fair operates.