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Carroll County Farmers Market opens for spring season despite a wintry chill

With the official first day of spring behind us, you might think that bone-chilling weather, snow and ice would be giving way to sunny skies and warmer temperatures. But for the hundreds of people who visited the inaugural day of the Carroll County Farmers Market in Westminster, that wasn’t the case.

The market held its Spring Fling opening day amid strong winds and cold weather.

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Anita Bullock, one of the market managers, is entering her 45th year with the market. A Westminster native, Bullock not only helps run the event but is a vendor herself, selling baked goods ranging from pies, and cakes, to banana nut bread.

“I enjoy being at the market,” Bullock said, “After all of these years, I still like it. You make friends with the other vendors and returning customers.”

Bullock said that this year there have been more than 25 new vendors apply for a space, and about 20 of those were in attendance on Saturday, helping to make up more than 75 vendors — spanning four buildings — in total for the sold-out show.

The market is the second-oldest producer-only farmers market in Maryland, having opened in 1972.

“Every item sold at our market has to be made by the person selling it,” said Heather Kuykendall, one of the market managers. “We do not allow imports. The market is a privately run, nonprofit market that is made up of 12 board of directors who are all vendors at the market.”

The market started out with 13 local farm vendors and has grown to hold upwards of 100 vendors, ranging from home-grown fruits and vegetables, bedding plants, gardening plants, cut flowers, herbs and house plants, as well as handmade pies, cakes, breads, cookies, jams and jellies, cheese, honey and dips, farm-raised eggs, beef, lamb and chicken — plus handmade crafts of all sorts.

Some of the handmade crafts include photography, hand-painted art, blankets, pillows, tote bags, polymer clay items, handmade soap and more. Local authors appear as well.

“We have over 225 vendors that we pull from each Saturday that we are open,” Kuykendall said, “Vendors can pick and choose what weekends they want to participate.”

For Bullock and Kuykendall, it’s a family affair, as they are mother and daughter. When Kuykendall was 13 years old, she started helping her mother at the market and working in the kitchen. Having a full-time job when she started a family, she wanted to be able to stay at home with the kids. Leaving the full-time job, she then took more of a role with the market. She now helps with the baking of cakes and runs the kitchen, which offers a variety of food and beverages, at a cost, to the customers.

Though the market already has a diverse, large number of vendors, they are always looking for more farm-related products, as well as new and unique crafters.

Bags of individually wrapped homemade cookies lined the tables at Lucy’s Cookies stand, a new vendor this year. Cindy Tracey was excited to see the turnout for the day.

“I’ve known Anita [Bullock] for years and know she sells her famous pies,” Tracey said. “I want to get a feel for what is in demand and bring more products next time.”

Her business name is gleaned from her real name, Lucinda, and the nickname of Lucy. “I hope everyone enjoys what I bake,” she said.

Many of the tables within the four buildings featured the spring and summer theme within their products, which included pillows, honey, baked goods, home decor, pillows, signs and wine.

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Rosemary Barnes, of Sykesville, is also a new vendor. She makes all the items herself, including some hand-painted designs on slate signs and shadow boxes featuring wolves, scenery and even Goebel Hummel figurines.

Customers Amy Martin, of Hampstead, and Chris Ferraro, of Westminster, are regulars at the market.

“We enjoy crafts, food, and, well, everything,” said Martin, who has been attending since the 1980s. “There are oodles and oodles to look at, and we always find something.”

She advised that if there is something specific you want, to come early as popular items can sell fast.

A returning vendor, Carol Glass, of Sykesville, has been selling her homemade cloth items for the past 10 years. She offered an array of table toppers, totes, dog neckerchiefs and placements.

“I retired and needed something to do, and like to sew,” Glass said. “I’ve sold numerous things over the years, including cornhole bags; you have to vary the items as customers don’t want the same things all the time.”

“I’ve made friends with other vendors,” she added, “and with customers, some are repeats and we all get to know each other.”

Though not a veteran like Glass, Chris Kline has been attending the market for the past three years selling her handmade bags.

Her bright and colorful beach bags and totes adorned the tables beside her. “I retired and this is a bucket list item of mine,” Kline said, “to start a business.” Having this self-sustaining business is important to her and she noted that there is a personal satisfaction knowing people all over the world are carrying her products. “I’ve sold or given away approximately 400 bags, and they can be found in areas like California, Mexico, London, and Arizona,” she said.

“There is a variety of benefits to this,” Kline said. “I enjoy making friends,” she continued, “and I’m always coming home with someone else’s products too.”

“I am grateful for what we do,” Kuykendall said, “for the vendors and customers, and the family atmosphere.” She went on to say there are even customers that have made friends with one another over the years, that come in and have breakfast together before perusing the vendors and their wares.

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