The Haverhill Farmers Market kicked off its season on Saturday on Bailey Boulevard as more than 375 people came to check out the food and gifts offered by 10 vendors.
Visitors got to watch baskets being woven, taste Kimball Farm's Cowboy Caviar, and ogle beautiful jewelry and pottery. Everything for sale, like the goat cheese, eggs, fruit and vegetables, was a local product.
"It has gone wonderfully," said organizer Lisa Marzilli of Team Haverhill. "We're very excited. There's a very nice community feeling. Everyone's really happy."
Team Haverhill, a communitywide volunteer group that works to improve the city, has been hard at work expanding and promoting the farmers market, which is in its 31st year.
"When we originally started, we said we'd be happy if we had four vendors," said Kate Martin, a member of the farmers market steering committee of Team Haverhill. "Ten was a dream."
The turnout was so good, in spite of the misty morning weather, that many vendors sold much more of their goods than they thought they would. ValleyView Farm had to call for more goat cheese, Orchard Hill Farm sold out of blueberries and baked goods and Speakeasy Farm sold all of its eggs.
The farmers market will be a weekly event until Oct. 31. Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., vendors will line Bailey Boulevard at GAR Park. Starting Saturday, July 25, live music will be added to the event. Organizers are also hoping to add vendors and demonstrators for future Saturdays. The farmers market also offers a free table for local nonprofts to talk to visitors and hand out information.
"We hope to keep getting bigger," said Marzilli.
One of the most positive results of the event, according to organizers, was that guests at Haverhill's farmers market got to mingle with neighbors and feel a strong sense of community, while they helped local businesses in today's tough economy.
"I'm really happy to have a place for people in Haverhill to get together on a regular basis," said Mike LaBonte of Team Haverhill. "It's also a green thing to do."
"We've had a constant stream of people all day," said Martin of Team Haverhill. "We've seen all kinds of people, families, young people, older people."
There were even some out-of-towners who visited. Melissa and Jake Roloson of Corning, N.Y., were in the city visiting friends and decided to check out the market. They sampled some of Kimball Farm's maple popcorn and picked up gifts for their hosts
"I think this is a great idea," Jake Roloson said.
The farmers market also turned into a reunion for some guests. Linda Parsons of Groveland and Marilyn Allison of Haverhill both call themselves Ex-Market Masters. They helped run the event in the 1980s and 1990s. The two women happened to be looking at the same vendor's table when they recognized each other. Both were thrilled to see the farmers market booming this summer.
"It's very exciting," said Parsons. "I'm glad to see so many people here. There's so much to offer."
"There's renewed enthusiasm," said Allison.
For more information about the Haverhill Farmers Market or to fill out an application to be a vendor, visit www.haverhillfarmersmarket.org.