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Ripon farmers market is about more than fresh local produce
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Bicycles in the foreground brought many Riponites to Thursday’s Farmers’ Market on downtown Main Street. The vendors were very busy and the area stores picked up residual trade as well. - photo by GLENN KAHL
It was a stroll down Ripon’s Main Street toward the city’s third successful Farmers’ Market Thursday afternoon that was actually relaxing and made me forget what time it was and that, hey, I had a couple of stories waiting to be written.

There was a weak moment where I slipped into Burgess Bakery – just couldn’t help myself – that oatmeal raisin cookie was a magnet.  It’s always a joy to chat with Jimmy about her shop and now her new cake shop that will open next door in two weeks.

And then there was Jerry Lenzora who has sold his sign shop in Manteca’s Industrial Park and is totally enjoying staying busy in retirement.  Jerry beamed standing next to his beautifully restored, red ’50s Chevy that will be in the upcoming annual cruise night celebration in Modesto.

One more stop – grandparents who have never gone into the Kinder Garden children’s thrift store in the old bank building at Main St. and Stockton Avenue – right at the edge of the farmers’ market – you have missed the boat.

Even from a guy’s point of view it is a great place, well organized and operated by one family of six – with kids from four to 19.  They all do their part and learn to deal with the adult world in the process – impressive parenting.    

Getting sidetracked is something that I’m good at as my wife will immediately confirm.  Continuing to do just that I poked my head into Marissa’s Closet in the shuttered Ripon Drug Store building.  My curiosity got the best of me as it was obvious the front door was standing open.  The prom season is over and what could they be up to other than storing the 1,700 prom dresses for next season I wondered.

That was as far from the actual state of affairs as it could possibly have been yesterday.  Melinda Shaw met me inside and smiling broadly filled me in on the schedule of events already on her summer calendar.

My fears of melancholy were totally dashed and unfounded as Marissa’s mom continues to move full speed ahead.  First on June 19 Marissa’s Closet is sponsoring a “Cinderella Ball” for Camp Taylor located in Salida – an organized group supporting kids who have experienced serious heart ailments and surgery.

Marissa’s Closet is transporting dresses to the ball site in Livermore for some 50 girls aged 13 to 19.  Their effort is once again taking the expense off of the shoulders of parents who have already been drained by endless medical bills for the love of their daughters.

On July 10 there is a prom planned in Texas where 15 girls are getting the support from the Ripon non-profit evening gown closet.  It is a special graduation event for less fortunate kids and Marissa’s Closet is shipping the dresses to that southern state.

In August Melinda tells me that a fund raiser, “Purses for Prom Dresses” is on tap that will be held in Manteca.  Top designer purses are to be auctioned off at a luncheon with the proceeds going toward scholarships and evening gowns in preparation for the Winter Formal events at schools near and far from Ripon.

Also in August – the beginning of a new school year – staff members are readying informational packets for students to make them aware of the gowns, shoes and purses available for the winter dances coming up in December and January.  They must get the permission of the school districts to hand out those packets and fliers to the students.

She’s not done yet – in September a motorcycle ride is on tap complete with a barbecue for the riders.  It, too, will serve as a fund raiser.  No, there is no melancholy to be found with Melinda Shaw or with her supporters at Marissa’s Closet.  They continue to be on track for a better tomorrow for the teens they can serve.

And, for the Farmers’ Market, it gets better every week, complete with interesting demonstrations.  This week a culinary expert made flowers out of fruits and vegetables.