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Big crowd for first Ripon farmers market
Jessop Farms’ fresh strawberries were a big hit. - photo by HIME ROMERO
RIPON — Sure the fresh strawberries, red ripe cherries and locally produced honey were huge hits.

But it was the Downtown Ripon farmers market itself that drew the crowds on its inaugural day as hundreds of people flooded the streets for a throwback to an event that was once a huge part of Ripon’s annual summer routine.

Ripon Historical Society president and businessman John Mangelos said the combination of warm weather and community spirit aided in bringing out the better-than-expected crowd. He anticipates response to grow on a weekly basis during the market’s two-month summer run.

“The turnout today has been exceptional, and is a prime example of one of the events that helps to make Ripon such a special place to live,” Mangelos said. “Where else do you get to see a farmer work so hard in raising their crop and appreciate the look on the face of customers when they sell what they’ve grown at the market?

“Ripon is such a family-oriented town, and once word of events like this start to spread then it’s easy to see how big of an event this can grow into. We’re already expecting five more vendors for next week, and that’s a great sign for something like this that is so young.”

Started with seed money from the Ripon City Council, Mangelos said that the not-for-profit organization is looking to repay the debt before they start to look for other ways to distribute the revenue from renting out booths to the roughly dozen vendors dominated by local family farms.

“Especially in a time like this, the last thing that we want to do is impose on the City of Ripon,” Mangelos said. “They were good to assist us in funding, and that’s our first priority. Without the assistance of the council, this is something that might have never happened.”

Businesses remained open to draw from the large crowd congregating outside.

As a 28-year Ripon resident, Ray Newlon has come to love the all-community gatherings, and found himself a shady spot Thursday afternoon to take everything in.

“I think that there’s a lot of enthusiasm here in the community for something like this every week during the summer,” Newlon said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things from people that have been here today, and I definitely see this as something that grows and ends up becoming a social event for the people of Ripon by the end of summer.

“It’s really a family function and that’s one of the things that helps draw people.”

The Ripon farmers market will run through late July every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. located in the heart of downtown Ripon – just off of Highway 99’s Main Street exit.