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Ripon farmers market debuts May 20
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RIPON - Ripon’s heralded farmers market in the old downtown is going to be the best ever if the community’s celebrated chef John Mangelos is successful in his part in the planning.

Mangelos is the owner of the Barnwood Restaurant and a past president of the chamber of commerce – a longtime supporter of the city’s business community.

Not only is there going to be a total of 32 vendors in 10-by-10 booths every Thursday starting May 20, but Mangelos is lobbying businesses to set up unique cooking demonstrations that will further entice community members to make a point to stop by the weekly event.

It will be held on Main Street just east of the intersection with Stockton Avenue  in the tree-lined downtown area with shops on both sides of the street.

Alli Johnson of Divine Décor – a new business on Main Street – is set to stage the first demonstration on May 20.  It is hoped that the Ripon Fire Department will accept a challenge by Mangelos to enter into a chili cook off with the police department and other city staffers at the market on May 27.

Jimmy Burgess, of Burgess Baking Company, is set to present her baking skills on June 17.  Her bakery store front faces directly into the Farmers’ Market booth area.

Mayor Chuck Winn said his purpose in supporting the Farmers’ Market event is to spotlight downtown Ripon.  The market could have been held at the community center on Fourth Street, but that would not have drawn people into the area near the city’s oldest business district.

The start up cost for the event is about $2,500; however the city council members feel they will recoup that amount through charging vendors for their booth space, hoping to just cover expenses.

Advertising banners are being placed on a chain link fence facing Highway 99 and at the intersection of Second Street and Stockton Avenue.  Fliers are also to be included in city utility bills to make the citizens more aware of the Farmers’ Market dates.  

Winn said he would like to see a shop local campaign as too much of the sales tax monies are going to cities of Modesto and Manteca when Ripon is in dire need of the tax dollars to help run the city.  

One of the nearby restaurants is offering music on the opening night in addition to promises of future car shows and symphonies.  

Councilman and insurance broker Dean Uecker said at a recent council meeting, “I think it’s a great project for the downtown.  If I were in the downtown, I would be excited about it.”  His comment was in reference to several downtown businesses who voiced concern telling council members they felt the market would have a negative impact on their business.

Tara Fisher-Carnahan is serving as the manager of the market and is being assisted by longtime Ripon supporter Helen Cataeno.