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Biggest crowd in years flocks to downtown farmers market
FARMERS--Market Pic 1
Dawn Sanders of Ripon-based DePalma Farms consolidates bins of cherries in what she expects to be the last week that the popular crop is offered at Market and Music in Manteca the revamped Downtown Farmers Market that kicked off on Tuesday. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Pete Oresco knew what he wanted when he sauntered into Library Park.

Sort of.

He knew he wanted cherries and he knew that he wanted peaches, and he figured he’d be able to get both the opening week of “Market and Music in Manteca” – the revamped Downtown Farmer’s Market.

But he didn’t expect to walk away with three bags bursting with produce.

“That’s what happens to me every year – you have an idea of what you want and then you see what’s out there,” Oresco said. “It’s the time of year that you can cook just about anything with the freshest ingredients possible, so you can’t really beat that.

“And each week there’s always something different – something new that was harvested – so you’re always going to end up with a special treat.”

And people have taken a liking to the new market format which includes popular food vendors like Lockeford Meats and Sausages and a brand new beer garden to give people a place to hang out and enjoy the fruit and food available from the certified vendors.

According to Manteca Chamber of Commerce Director Joann Beattie, the crowd on opening day surpassed even the best-attended event last season and showed that the new configuration and additions are popular with those who make it a priority to stop by.

“We definitely didn’t have this many people down here last year, so I think it’s good to see this,” Beattie said. “We did some things differently this year and people seem to like some of the changes so hopefully that’s something that continues every week.”

For Dawn Sanders – who has been manning the Ripon-based DePalma Farms booth for the last 14 years – the market is a chance to rekindle longtime friendships and lay the foundation for new ones.

“I love the customers. There are some customers that don’t even know the name of the farm – they just keep coming back every single week to see me,” Sanders said. “That’s what is great about doing this – you really get to know the people that keep coming back year-after-year, and each week you get to meet entirely new customers.”