OLEAN — Back by popular demand, the city’s largest farmers market will open up shop twice during the holiday season.
On Nov. 23 and Dec. 21 — the Saturdays before Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively — the Rural Enterprise Association of Proprietors will host special holiday-themed farmers markets at Lincoln Square in the city’s Lincoln Park.
Mark Schindlbeck, president of the Rural Enterprise Association of Proprietors and operator of Schindlbeck in Franklinville, said a dozen vendors are expected on Saturday.
“This is a brand new thing for us,” Schindlbeck said, adding expected vendors will deal in meat, bread and baked goods, honey, local crafters and Canticle Farms with vegetables.
The market times will help cooks grab the last few items needed for their big holiday meals, Schindlbeck said. “Maybe people could shop around for Christmas presents, too.”
The market, formed in 1989, celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. In August, the market moved to Lincoln Square from the Olean Center Mall parking lot. Under the market rules, at least 50 percent of a seller’s display must be their own product, and the remainder must be clearly labeled but still from the region.
The new structure is key to making the event possible, Schindlbeck said.
“In the past, it wouldn’t have been very good for us,” he said, noting that November weather is notoriously poor without a permanent, covered market space. “Even just the first week of November it didn’t work” when officials have sought to extend the regular market season.
City officials are pleased to host the sellers during the holiday season.
“We’re very pleased they have chosen to set up,” Mayor Bill Aiello said. “We’re looking to use that facility much more.”
Aiello said the roll-down vinyl panels to help keep out the wind and rain have been ordered, and will be installed when they arrive — opening up the possibility of more winter and poor-weather use for the facility. One of the restrooms is also heated, he added, so there will be no need to keep city hall or the John Ash Community Center open outside of regular business hours for events at the park.
Those panels will be very handy, Schindlbeck said, and not just for winter events.
“They’ve been used on other markets in other towns,” he said. “Being able to block the wind and possibly the weather makes it a lot more comfortable… there were a couple of times when we could have used them this year for the rain.”
Officials hope the panels are in place by Christmas.
“That makes it a usable facility for other users, too,” Schindlbeck said.
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