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Family Table coming this weekend to Fredericksburg

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

For a list of participating restaurants and a link to the week-long event schedule, click here.

Earlier this year, representatives of a number of city- and family-focused groups sat down to try to plan a festival and restaurant

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange will host an heirloom tomato tasting at Saturday's Fredericksburg farmers market.

week focused on getting kids and their families to the city’s farmers market, and to its independent downtown restaurants.

The product of that work kicks off Saturday, with a day-long festival that will mark the beginning of a restaurant week called the Family Table.

The event is focused on teaching kids about local and seasonal produce, but it offers something to please foodies of all ages.

The first stop is an expanded farmers market at Hurkamp Park.

This is the first year the city market has had its own manager. Donna Leahy, who took that post early this year, has been listening to customer feedback all summer, and used what she heard to create the market you’ll see Saturday.

Prince Edward Street will close between William and George streets from 8 a.m. until noon (The market runs 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.). That’s a nod to complaints that the sidewalks are too tight to house both vendors and shoppers. Leahy said it’s a test run that could lead to further study of closing the street for future markets.

Inside the market, Leahy has recruited a few extra vendors that she’s heard requests for. Papa Weaver’s Pork of Orange County, along with a goat cheese dairy called Sweet Valley Farm, from the Culpeper area, will be there.

In addition, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a purveyor or heirloom seeds out of Mineral, will host an heirloom tomato tasting.

“I was excited about getting the things people had mentioned to me at the market that they would like to see,” Leahy said, but she also doesn’t want people to lose sight of the nearly 30 vendors who set up every Saturday—and weekdays—to sell at the market.

“One of the things I have learned a lot is an appreciation of how hard they work to bring their things to the market so that all these things are available to the consumer on a Saturday,” Leahy said. “A lot of these vendors have full-time jobs on top of what they do to sell at the market.”

A number of other activities, including animals from the Maranatha Alpaca Farm and presentations from public health advocates, will round out the mix. Inside Hurkamp Park, visitors will find another array of food-focused activities.

The Cobblestone Children’s Museum will present an exhibit aimed at helping kids to learn about how vegetables grow and how farming works.

All ages will appreciate the food carvings from nationally known food artist James Parker of Veggyart, which will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the park.

From 10 a.m. until noon, local chefs will put on cooking demonstrations.

At noon, the festivities shift to Market Square, the city’s historic market location.

On your way down there, you might want to stop by Olde Towne Butcher on William Street. Owner Lee Russell will bring in maple bacon ice cream from Pennsylvania-based Trickling Springs Creamery for tasting during the day.

Another business—The Kitchen at Whittingham—will get in on the festivities by offering cooking classes for young people throughout the week.

In Market Square, you’ll be able to get a wide-ranging education in food production.

Hearth to Hearth Cookery, which has done Colonial cooking demonstrations at major historical sites around the region, will put on Colonial butter- and cheese-making presentations.

Miller Farms will do demonstrations on home canning and bread making.

Local beekeepers will have samples and exhibits on local honey.

Fredericksburg Parent magazine will host a number of food science experiments.

The Market Square activities run from noon to 4 p.m., and just as with the farmers market, there is no admission charge.

The entire event is meant to kick off a city restaurant week focused on families and children.

A number of restaurants and other businesses will offer special kid-focused menus or other deals, with many offering menus that allow children to pay their age.