Laurel Farmers Market heading in a new direction

Staff Sgt. Ben Rodriguez peruses peaches and pears from Westbrook Orchards, in Biglerville, Pa.

Mary Lou DuBeau's dad buys her a scarf from Marilyn Johnson's boutique table, stationed just feet away.

Breanna Gomberg, from Scaggsville, carefully selects cucumbers from her neighborhood Scaggsville farmers, Welsh's Produce.

Laurel's Farmers Market, soon to be called Frank and Gail's Farmers Market and Bazaar, showcases an eclectic mix of the new with the old market style each Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the 300 block of Main Street.

"In remembrance of the people that started the market and who worked so diligently to move this Main Street tradition to the next level by the addition of additional offerings, we named it after Francis (Frank) Gosmen and Gail Reinhardt," said Laurie Blitz, chair of the Laurel Board of Trade's Farmers Market Committee.

"The market will still be referred to as the Laurel Farmers Market because the public responds to it as that," she said.

"Gail had this vision before she passed away," said Matthew Coates, chairman of the Laurel Board of Trade, said of Reinhardt, who was the administrative coordinator of the Laurel Board of Trade until her death in May 2012.

Gosman was a former Board of Trade member who died four years ago.

Future plans including having local entertainment at every lunch-time, childrens activities and other vendors, according to Blitz. Some of the vendors they hope to include will sell soaps, photography, plants and flowers.

Gomberg, a frequent customer of the market, said she looks forward to more variety in food wares available.

"I like to buy fresh food with the small businesses," she said, "but I want it to still be more of a farmers market," with more bread, flowers and herbs.

"We will still keep our core with vendors that have been with us for years," said Coates, "but we'd love to have one more farmer for more vegetables and variety."

Ready to eat and farm produce

"I love supporting my local farms and merchants," said Kim Jones, of Laurel. But, the "food is my main draw," she said, rather than goods.

At the market, an equal mix of produce, fruit, crafts and fast food vendors make a circle around a pair of canopies that keep the market's customers cool while they are eating lunch or a snack in the already-90 degree weather Thursday morning, June 28.

On the right side of the market, sits Westbrook Orchards' menagerie of colorful cherries, apricots and plums. Clint Rice traveled nearly two hours to sell fruits and jams at the market.

Rodriguez, of Bowie, had never made it out to the market before a scorching morning on June 28.

"This is the first time I've ever seen this here," he said. "This has convinced me to bring my family out here."

To the left of Westbrooks' table a pair of local farmers jokingly competed for customers. Welsh's Produce, owned by Warren and Marie Welsh, from Scaggsville, have been selling produce in the area for 54 years and married for 55. Their granddaughter, Emily, helps them bag their produce as the customers keep coming.

But the newer faces at the market and bazaar aren't selling squash and berries; they're displaying handmade jewelry, clothes and accessories.

The three vendors with these kinds of wares are all members of the Laurel Board of Trade, including Michelle Arsenault, who sells hand-molded silver jewelry; Laurie Blitz, owner of Laurie's Something Special Coffee; and Marilyn Johnson, proprietor of the Marilyn Johnson Sewing and Design Studio.

In the planning of the market/bazaar, Coates suggested that the market showcase local Main Street vendors.

"Why not have some vendors sell some of the things that are sold on Main Street," he said, including the Marilyn Johnson Studio.

Most important, Coates wants the selection of items available at the market to have weekly variety, so people come back week after week.

"Why not alternate each week so things are fresh," he said.

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