Expanded Fredericksburg Farmers Market opens
An expanded downtown Fredericksburg farmers market that has been four years in the making kicked off for the season Saturday morning.
Prince Edward Street was closed to vehicular traffic between George and William streets during Saturday’s market hours, which ran between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Prince Edward will close in that block next to Hurkamp Park on all but three Saturday mornings through October. Other city events are already scheduled on those three Saturdays—June 7, Sept. 20 and Oct. 4.
Vendors along George Street continue to set up on the sidewalk, which allows homeowners in that block to get in and out of their residences.
The city of Fredericksburg has been gradually testing the concept for the past three years, said Bob Antozzi, the city’s director of parks, recreation and public facilities.
That block of Prince Edward Street was closed for the market one time in 2011, four times in 2012 and six times last year.
“Now we can do it every time,” Antozzi said Saturday at the market.
Antozzi said the street closure keeps the sidewalks along Prince Edward unobstructed and makes it easier for people to get around—particularly those pushing strollers or using walkers or wheelchairs.
One happy customer at Saturday’s market was Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, who was with her husband buying bread and vegetables.
“It’s the only sensible way to expand it,” Greenlaw said.
The city made the decision this past winter to close the street during Saturday market days, said Mike Morelli, who manages the market with Gayle Price.
To address the concerns of some vendors and emergency rescue personnel, a layout was selected in which vendors along Prince Edward set up in the middle of the street rather than having two rows of booths along the sidewalks.
That allows vendors to pull their trucks up to their stands directly and to come and go during the day if necessary. It also permits emergency vehicles to get through, if needed.
“This setup worked the best,” Morelli said.
About 16 vendors selling produce, baked goods, seafood, meat and coffee came out for Saturday’s opening day. Morelli said six more vendors will be part of the market in coming weeks. Kona Ice, Beach Fries and Deutschland Downtown also operate food trucks at the market.
In addition, the city’s farmers market in the Mayfield community will kick off this coming Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then operate weekly through the season.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405