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Cooperstown Farmers Market Celebrates 20 Years on Saturday, June 18

June 9, 2011

> Dateline June 1991 – The Cooperstown Farmers Market opened its doors for the
> first time! With a dozen vendors and a dream, what has become a village
> institution, was launched at the old Leatherstocking Garage in Pioneer Alley.
> Today the market overflows into the parking lot and weekly attendance often
> tops 1500. Offering fresh produce, cheeses, meat, baked goods, jams, salsas,
> flowers, crafts it is one stop shopping for products grown and made in the
> Otsego environs. And it is fulfilling its mission of creating local
> sustainable agricultural and craft industries.
> A celebration is planned to mark the 20th Anniversary on Saturday June
> 18th . There will be a ceremonial ribbon cutting at 8am followed by music
> and refreshments including Chobani yogurt samples. Activities for children
> include a petting zoo courtesy of the Farmers Museum from 9-12, puppet shows
> at 9:30 and 11:30, and face painting from10-12. Master Gardener Mary Welch
> will be on hand from 8 to10 am to assist with gardening questions. At 11:30
> Irish dancers will perform, and winners of the Children’s Farm Poster Art
> Contest will be announced (all entries will be displayed in the market).
> The market was established in 1991 shortly after the successful battle by
> “Friends of Protect” , to divert the Marcy South power lines away from the
> hills above Otsego Lake. Out of that effort Otsego 2000 emerged and
> founders Gib and Lin Vincent, Henry Cooper , Margaret McGowan and Kent
> Barwick along with Wendy Littlefield incorporated the idea of a Farmers
> Market into the mission of the organization.
> Finding people to produce quality goods for a market was the hardest task.
> “Wendy did most of this,” says Vincent. “She scoured the countryside
> looking for vendors. The majority of the farmers in the area were
> thoroughly industrialized for milk production and were not interested in
> vegetables, meat or flowers.” With just two exceptions the first vendors all
> had other jobs, and produced on the side for their own health. Littlefield
> talked some of them into planting in greater quantities in order to sell at
> the market. “We had to restrict the craft booths to 40% or less of the
> market,” Vincent continues. “For every produce seller, we had 10 craft
> makers who wanted to enter the market. We set up a jury to judge the craft
> applicants and turned many away as our idea was to put the emphasis on
> food.”
> The Clark Estates generously donated the old Leatherstocking garage
> fulfilling the hope to have the market in the center of town.
> The Vincents felt strongly that the market should be in Cooperstown, in
> order to bring people in from neighboring areas, to allow village residents
> to walk to the market, and make local farm produce readily available in the
> village. The market needed a manager, and found Dave Bryce, a local
> sculptor who had free time on Saturday. Tara Sumner designed the logo,
> Otsego 2000 paid for the advertising, and in June, 1991, the Cooperstown
> Farmers’ Market opened its doors.
> Today it operates every Saturday from 8-2 in the summer and 9-2 in the fall
> and winter – 47 markets with over 40 vendors and a Tuesday market in July,
> August and September. It is a true community gathering place where friends
> and neighbor mix congenially with visitors and all leave with a piece of
> Otsego county in their bags.

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