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Fredericksburg Farmers Market – A fall festival, and a look toward next year

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If you’ve enjoyed the First Saturdays events at the Fredericksburg Farmers Market this summer, you should know that they’re not finished for the season yet. The Oct. 6 market will be a “Fall Festival,” complete with face painting, pumpkins and other fall produce.

The market will run from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., and the block of Prince Edward Street that lines Hurkamp Park will be closed to allow for more vendors. Family-friendly, fall-themed events will run inside Hurkamp Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event is free to the public.

Market Manager Gayle Price said she’s been pleased with the response the other First Saturday expanded markets have gotten this season, so the October event was added.

“It’s a day to celebrate the harvest season, kind of a winding down,” she said, but certainly not the end of the farmers market. The Fredericksburg market will continue its managed season through the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Vendors can still continue to sell after that, and several will still be there through Christmas.

At the Oct. 6 event, market officials are planning a pie contest and a pumpkin carving contest. Both will offer awards in a “juniors” category for those ages 8 through 18, and an adult category for those over 18. Price said rules and submission guidelines should be coming soon at the market’s website,

In addition to the usual array of local farmers, bakers and purveyors of meat, seafood and other goods, this market will include a winery offering tastings, an allergy-free cupcake baker and a few other vendors Price is still working on that fit the fall theme.

As she nears the end of her first season managing the market, along with co-manager Mike Morrelli, Price said she feels like momentum is building.

The Fredericksburg market had a greater presence on Facebook and Twitter this year, and sales of the tokens that allow customers to use their credit or debit cards at the market were about double what they were at this point last year, Price reports.

“I think we’ve had a great season,” she said. “I think a lot of these people are new to the market.”

Price is trying to promote the idea that customers can get almost all of the things they would buy in a typical grocery store trip (other than tropical produce or non-food items like diapers and garbage bags) at the local farmers market. She has tried to hone the vendor mix this year, and continues to work on that for next year’s market, to meet customer requests and fill out the various needs of the typical home pantry.

“Really as we go into the next season, the vendors that we’ll be looking at most are people who bring in some kind of new dynamic,” she said.

She’d like to find more local vendors of prepared foods, things like fruit pies and quiches. She’d love to find a local pasta maker, and perhaps someone to sell coffee or hot breakfast items to the early morning shoppers.

But she wants to make sure the market remains a place where you don’t have to pull your kid away from the junk food on display.

“We really like the idea of people being able to come and bring their families and stay,” she said. “This is about encouraging families to eat fresh, local, healthy foods.”