The Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers' Market, long a fixture in Carroll County, closed yesterday after nearly 12 years of providing arts and crafts, homemade food and fresh pastries for the community.
The farmers' market is moving to Baltimore County after losing its lease at a strip mall on Route 140 in Westminster. The new market - at the old Metro Food Market space at Ashland Marketplace in Cockeysville - is expected to open in late July, said Nancy Boltz, the market's advertising and public relations director.
For longtime customers, trips to the farmers' market at the Crossroad Square Shopping Center in Westminster will be missed.
'This is a big loss'
"I like the fresh food, the handmade crafts, and my kids love the pretzels," said Lynn Langrill of Littlestown, Pa. "This is a big loss for the community."
Dana Mays has stopped by the market nearly every week since she moved to Westminster two years ago. It was no different on Friday when Mays and her daughter, Tyler, 5, were shopping one final time for Beanie Babies.
"Cockeysville - that is a real shame," Mays said.
Every Saturday, Linda Pascal of Westminster came for a breakfast of coffee and apple fritters. Usually, Pascal left with a bunch of fresh flowers.
"I probably won't get to Cockeysville more than once or twice a year," Pascal said.
Vendors say they'll miss their customers and hope the regulars will follow them to the new location. Almost all of the market's 42 vendors will relocate to Cockeysville.
"I'm going to miss it here," said Rhoda Zaid, who has been running Beads and Weeds at the farmers' market for 10 years. "This is sad - many, many goodbyes."
Customers have been stopping by Rita Shifman's Baby Sensations, which has been selling Beanie Babies, baby gifts and christening and communion outfits for seven years, to say farewell. One dropped by recently with a cake, Shifman said.
"The customers out here have become our friends," said Shifman, 79, of Pikesville. "People are so friendly down here and down to earth. That's what I'll take with me."
On Friday, cars packed the parking lot at the Crossroad Square Shopping Center at Routes 140 and 97. The indentation of a familiar sign that read "Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers' Market" on the brown and tan building still remained after the awning was removed Wednesday.
"It was kind of sad and kind of odd seeing it like that," said Boltz, who began selling jewelry at the market about 1 1/2 months after it opened. "I saw it go up and come down."
Inside, the market bustled with shoppers. The smell of pies, roasted chicken and pretzels filled the market space.
A few customers stood in line to pick up one of the fresh cakes baked by the Amish. And more than a dozen people waited for food at Stoltzfus Bar-B-Q-Pit.
Kathleen Ryser of Uniontown was savoring a pretzel-covered hot dog and holding her candy purchases - Mary Janes, caramels and button-candy on paper - for her child's last-day-of-school party.
"I usually come here to stock my freezer with free-range chicken and organically grown beef," Ryser said. "I will probably follow them to Cockeysville or go to a local farmer for meats now. I really like to mosey around here."
At the information booth near the market's front doors, Boltz took phone calls from customers asking about the closing.
Just before the market's doors closed at 4 p.m. yesterday, Boltz said she took her microphone and told customers, "Like the Amish say, 'the way to a friend's house is never long.'"