The Manteca Chamber of Commerce has it all wrong.
Their weekly Tuesday farmers’ market at Library Park shouldn’t be called “Market & Music in Manteca.”
“Mellow Market & Music in Manteca” would be more appropriate.
Just an hour or so after Mother Nature flirted with 100 degrees Tuesday, a group of giggling youngsters were cooling down in the interactive water play feature as folks sipped wine and tried this week’s craft beer while dining on food truck fare listening to the mellow sounds of the Bourbon Street Blues Band beneath the expansive shade of towering sycamores.
“It’s a shame that people get scared off by the heat,” noted Chamber Executive Director Joann Beattie as she surveyed the gathering that wasn’t as robust as the opening Tuesday of the market that runs through the end of July.
Judging by the vibe and the fact it is indeed a good 10 degrees or so cooler in the shade, people were missing out on a pleasant finish to a valley day. But as Beattie noted that lower turnout has been the norm in past years when forecasters predict triple digit weather.
More than a few folks agreed with Beattie. People are missing a pleasant laid back evening in Library Park where a century ago town versus town baseball games took place on such a summer-like evening with half of Manteca turning out.
Of course back then if you wanted farm fresh produce, you’d have to grow it yourself.
On Tuesday evening there were fresh picked strawberries from the fog-cooled fields of Watsonville, lush kale grown in Manteca, and almonds galore in every imaginable flavor from Ripon grower Dale Kuil.
There’s more produce than that although Beattie noted the chamber lost about half of their farmers from last year due to issues with the homeless that kept people away.
Thanks to city efforts to establish rules and the flushing out of troublemakers, the homeless make themselves scarce during the market.
While that may not be information one would want to interject into a true “chamber of commerce” moment that the mellow Market & Music in Manteca is, it underscores the key for downtown to grow and blossom into what people say they want it to be — a gathering place for family, culture, and pleasant diversions whether it is dining or grabbing a specialty fruit smoothie or browsing stores such as German Glas Werks that lure people from the Bay Area but for many in Manteca is an undiscovered gem.
That key — simply use it or lose it.
For the most part the homeless shy away from areas where there are organized activities. and when they do venture through Library Park during the day they tend to stay on the fringe. But again, they weren’t intermingling with those enjoying the June evening with friends, food, and good music.
In the coming months the Downtown Alliance wants to build on what the chamber has established with the farmers market as well as other activities at Library Park such as Kids Art at the Park and downtown street fairs. The first event in the planning process is a wine stroll down Maple Avenue — a virtual textbook example of thriving specialty retail and services.
There is more to the weekly Tuesday market that goes from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. than what was mentioned previously. There are also specialty items such as olive oil and fresh humus in various combinations your taste buds have never thought of as well as other vendors offering everything from clothing and jewelry to Hawaiian ice.
Make it a point to drop by Market & Music next Tuesday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Rhythm Section provides the live music next week.
Better yet enjoy some time letting your kids cool off in the interactive water feature while you relax nearby under the shade. The city turns on the water play feature for use on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from noon to 7:30 p.m. through Sept. 3.
For more information about the Music & Market go to manteca.org or call 823-6121.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org