Farmers market coming to NG fairgrounds

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NEW GLOUCESTER — A new farmers market is coming to the updated New Gloucester Fairgrounds next month.

Parks and Recreation Committee member Kathleen Potter has taken the lead on  the new market, with help from Town Manager Carrie Castonguay.

“It’s been my baby,” Potter said.

The farmers market will start Sept. 1 and will be held every Saturday through Oct. 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Potter said she’s been thinking about the need for a farmers market in town for several years after previous markets held at the local AMVETS post and Thompson’s Orchard went away.

“There’s so much talent in this area … I thought, we need a venue for this,” she explained.

The market isn’t the only new addition to the fairgrounds, where the town is wrapping up a multi-year, roughly $100,000 development project that includes a pavilion, playground, gravel parking areas, woods walking trails and an upgraded  field area.

Town Finance Director Lori-Anne Wilson said the town has spent slightly more than $92,000 on the project to date. Up to $55,000 of that will be reimbursed by the state from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, she said.

There is still some work to be done on the pavilion, including the addition of crushed stone, painting and a handicap ramp, according to Castonguay.

She said Potter has been “kind of like the Energizer Bunny” to get the farmers market up and running. The town has provided some time and money to print flyers but has not designated any specific funds, she said.

Resident Fred Brusseau designed the market flyer and laughed about doing the work “pro-bono – except (Potter) needs to make me a chocolate cake.”

“He’s my hero,” Potter said of Brusseau’s design work.

Potter said that as of Aug. 20, she had eight to a dozen vendors interested in selling a variety of products at the market. The town is accepting vendor applications through Sept. 1 . A one-time fee of $75 will allow vendors to participate in each Saturday market this fall, she said.

“These are all very, very local people,” she said “We’ve got good stuff.”

Brusseau noted that many local farmers and craftsmen are “just looking for an outlet” like a farmers market.

“People have been excited – I get phone calls all over the place,” Potter said.

Rick Haas, who owns Lazy Dog Farm in New Gloucester with his wife Cheryl, said he “absolutely” plans to participate in the market.

As a licensed creamery, Haas said Lazy Dog would offer goat- and cow-milk cheeses along with beef, pork and chicken products. He also plans to sell produce and take orders for Thanksgiving turkeys at the market.

“I’m glad that Kathleen and the town manager were able to get it all together,” Haas said. “We’re looking forward to it and to see it grow.”

Potter expects a “wide variety of people” to participate, including soap makers, bakers, crafters and artists.

“I think people get the whole idea that a farmers market can have everything,” she said.

Potter also hopes the farmers market can work collaboratively with efforts to restart the New Gloucester Community Fair, which has been dormant for several years. Community Fair Committee Member Peter Bragdon told the New Gloucester Selectboard this week that next year’s fair date has been set for Aug. 17.

Both Potter and Haas noted the market could benefit from Saturday traffic near the fairgrounds, including residents using the town transfer station.

“Saturday is a good dump day, and it’s on the same road,” Haas said.

Potter said she received the go-ahead from the town to organize the market just two weeks ago, and that “this has been a very fast-moving thing.”

The initiative comes while the town is without a Parks and Recreation director after the departure of Harvey Price, who Castonguay said moved back to Ohio.

Castonguay has been overseeing the department in the interim and said there will be a discussion about possibly combining the recreation department with the town of Gray’s department at a joint Sept. 16 meeting.

She said that discussion is in the “very preliminary, exploratory stages.”

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

New Gloucester farmers market organizer Kathleen Potter and Fred Brusseau, who designed the event flyer, stand under the new pavilion at the town’s fairgrounds.

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