Ontario — Each Saturday throughout the summer, vendors loaded with fresh produce, jewelry and other locally made crafts can be seen at Moore Park, South Oregon Street and Southwest First Avenue, selling their wares.

However, the Saturday Market is more than a means for vendors to sell fruits, vegetables, soaps and handmade necklaces; it also provides a means for those, on both sides of the vendors’ tables, to experience a personal and sometimes educational aspect that doesn’t happen in most typical business settings.

Teri Anne Finnerty has been the market manager for the past three years and said there are three things that people can expect when headed to the Saturday Market.

“Fresh, unique and local,” Finnerty said.

That means fresh produce, unique vendors and local items.

“This provides the community with natural produce, locally made crafts and there’s even educational opportunities,” Finnerty said. “Many of the vendors help teach growing skills to customers.”

Finnerty also said that training sessions on various topics occasionally take place at the market, adding a very unique service to members of the community.

This year, Finnerty said that the market growth was excellent, thanks in part to an anonymous benefactor paying for all advertisements and Barbi Dailey for maintaining a Facebook page. Dailey is also a vendor at the market, selling goat milk soap.

By comparison, Finnerty said that a few years ago, they would have anywhere from 15 vendors to as few as two and would average about 30 to 50 patrons a week. Now, they have 12 regular vendors with over 25 participating from time-to-time, and the market averages about 250 patrons a week, if not more.

As far as why the vendors participate each year, the answers vary, and Finnerty said it’s mainly because it’s fun. For many of them, it’s also a social outlet and for some it simply helps their bottom line.

Bea and Paul Atwood have sold goods since the inception of the Saturday Market in 2008, with Paul selling wooden keepsake boxes and Bea selling handmade jewelry and scarfs, she said.

For Bea, this is more than just a means to make a few extra dollars, she said. Bea has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, and the Saturday Market is a reason for her to leave the house and interact with customers.

“It just relaxes me,” she said. “I just like all the people that come out.”

This Saturday will be the final day for this year’s Saturday Market and there will be a mini-Octoberfaire, during which the majority of the downtown businesses will be having specials, Finnerty said.

It’s expected that Saturday will be a lucrative day for the market and will provide a nice farewell until next year when the vendors can return once more to sell to, and engage with, the community, Finnerty said.

“We really appreciate the community support and we are trying to provide a service to the community,” Finnerty said.

Next year, Finnerty said that she is hoping to have more educational opportunities, such as craft bees, informational programs and more. The market accepts SNAP benefits, WIC fruit and veggie vouchers and the FDNP checks. If interested in being a vendor, call (541) 889-4058.

If you go

Saturday will be the mini-Octoberfaire at the Saturday Market at Moore Park, South Oregon Street and Southwest First Avenue, from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. There will be several fresh produce items, such as pumpkins, cucumbers, eggplants and more. There will also be a craft bee available for a small fee where you can learn to make sugar and salt scrubs. This will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

William Lopez is a news reporter at the Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4815 or by emailing willl@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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