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Bridgeport Farmers Market: Recognized by City, State and Nation; "Sinatra Sunday" with Offerings for Dad, Open Sunday at New Marketplace

By Julie Perine on June 17, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Wednesday night, Bridgeport Mayor Bob Greer – on behalf of City Council – presented representatives of Bridgeport Farmers Market with a certificate of appreciation for nine years of excellence. The market started in 2009 with a handful of vendors in the parking lot in front of Bridgeport High School and has grown into a vibrant Sunday farmers market featuring as many as 45 local growers, crafters, bakers and other vendors.
“They’ve operated nearly 10 years on volunteers and have grown to a stage where its organizers and people behind the scenes should be recognized,” Greer said.  “They do a fantastic job and they are an important part of Bridgeport - the small town aspect and farmers market; it all goes together.”
 
The market has garnered a number of industry-related honors. Last year, it was recognized by the American Farmland Trust as the Best Farmers Market in West Virginia and also awarded the Governor’s Service Award for volunteer efforts in its community. Bridgeport Farmers Market was also asked by the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association to be part of an agri-tourism panel at the organization’s annual conference at the Greenbrier in January.
 
“On a weekly basis, we receive phone calls and emails from other markets and municipalities across West Virginia looking for guidance to either start or improve their farmers markets,” said Debbie Workman of the BFM Board of Directors.
 
The market, which has also been listed in the top 100 Farmers Markets in the U.S. and recognized by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture for best social media campaign, is now open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays at the new marketplace at Charles Pointe, next to the new Greater Bridgeport Convention and Visitors Bureau building.
 
Each Sunday, the market welcomes new vendors and greets customers with live music and a variety of brunch offerings. This week, something special is on tap.
 
“The West Virginia Jazz Society is sponsoring the market this Sunday and billing it ‘Sinatra Sunday,’” Workman said. “It’s happening in conjunction with all the other jazz events this weekend – the jazz stroll in Clarksburg on Friday and Jazz at Charles Pointe (at Bridgeport Conference Center) Saturday.”
 
Eric Spelsberg, president of the West Virginia Jazz Society, said after sharing the area’s Italian heritage with musicians involved in this weekend’s jazz offerings, they thought a show focusing on Frank Sinatra would go over big. Patrons at this week’s market are in for a treat, Spelsberg said.
 
“We have Robert Redd, pianist for the Duke Ellington Jazz Orchestra, and his big band singing partner, Sue Matthews, who will be doing a version of the Sinatra Tribute they worked up for Summer Jazz Weekend,” he said. “They do the Sinatra music and share interesting things about Sinatra and his music while they do it.”  
 
Workman said she and other organizers look forward to it.
 
“We will have another jazz day later in the summer,” she said. “I guess you could say we’re expanding our music. Though these aren’t local musicians, it’s a local non-profit sponsoring it and it’s something a little different.”
 
Also new to the market this Sunday is Allegheny Treenware, Tamarack-approved artisans from the Thornton area of West Virginia.
“They make wooden spoons and other kitchen utensils,” Workman said. “No one at the market is doing that. I’ve seen them before at festivals and they will be coming to the market once a month.”
 
All treenware is individually hand-shaped and gouged, making each unique. Made only of West Virginia hardwoods – such as cherry, maple, birth, beech and walnut - the pieces are hand-shaped and sanded in steps for a satiny-smooth finish.
 
Providing this week’s chef’s demo is Frank Crislip of My Little Cupcake, who will be making summer sorbets. Brunch offerings will include grass-fed beef burgers by Rural Roots.
 
“We encourage people to come out and treat Dad,” said Workman. “They can hear some Frank Sinatra music and maybe they’ll even find a Father’s Day gift.”
 
More and more seasonal produce is available each week. This week, consumers should find green tomatoes, zucchini, squash and some potatoes, as well as greens, radishes, green onions and garlic scapes.
 
This Sunday will be the fourth outdoor market of the season and Workman said, like seasonal produce, the customer base keeps increasing week to week.
 
“It truly is incredible,” she said. “And we’ve had wonderful comments from vendors and customers about our new location – that there is more space to walk around and it is more conducive to traffic flow and provides more parking.”
 
Bridgeport Farmers Market has become a huge part of Bridgeport, added City Clerk Andrea Kerr.
 
“Week in and week out, throughout the year, they bring in thousands of people to Bridgeport,” she said. “It’s really amazing how they have grown and the variety of vendors that they have secured. We are proud to have them in Bridgeport and want to see their continued success!”
 
Editor’s Note: Pictured top/cover are representatives of Bridgeport Farmers Market recognized Wednesday evening at Bridgeport City Council. Pictured (left to right) are Cheri Postlethwait, Heidi Nawrocki, Kent Spellman, Bob Workman and Debbie Workman.


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