PITTSTON — The temperature Tuesday was in the high 90s which meant summer had officially arrived. With it came the first day of the Pittston City Farmers Market.
The market kicked off its annual season in the Lower Tomato Lot on South Main Street, and new coordinator Sarah Donahue said residents packed the area to beat the heat.
“We had a great kickoff to our first farmers market,” Donahue said. “Despite the heat, the crowd was very good. I saw a lot of people walking around with a lot of bags, so the people came and the people shopped.”
Returning vendors this year included Maaa’s Handmade Goat Milk Soap, Paul Plum, Tim’s Chili & Salsa, Brace’s Orchard, Dymond’s Farm, Golomb’s Farm and Greenhouse.
Another familiar face was TJ Belt of Jubilee Balloons who made balloon art for children.
This marked the balloon artist’s fourth consecutive farmers market, who said balloons are a way for children to enjoy the event while their parents shop.
“The main thing about me being here is that the people with little kids, they’re not dragging their kids to the market — kids want to come,” Belt said. “They know they’re going to get a balloon, and the parents can do their shopping. I like happy kids.”
While there were the usual vendors, some new ones were on hand, too, including Pittston Ketchup Company, Tortialleria El Buen Amigo and Beyond Bread.
Joe Valencia, an employee with Tortialleria El Buen Amigo, said his company joined the market as a way to branch out into the community.
“(We’re) joining all of the farmers markets trying to get everybody to know about the place,” he said. “Get to know about authentic Mexican food and fresh-made Mexican food.”
The Scranton-based company spent the afternoon selling different types of salsas, guacamole and tortilla chips.
“(We did) good,” Valencia said. “It was pretty good.”
Tortialleria El Buen Amigo will be at the market every week until September. At that same time, new vendors will come to sell fall products.
Other vendors, such as Tim’s Chili & Salsa, will be on hand later in the summer.
This year’s farmers market came under new leadership as Donahue took it over after previous coordinator Mary Angelella stepped down.
Donahue, who already holds the title of City Events Coordinator, was happy to add this to her plate when asked by Mayor Michael Lombardo.
“It works very well because I’m off now as a teacher, so I have a lot of time in the summer to be here and get everything going, especially for the Kids Days,” she said. “I’m happy to help with anything Mayor Lombardo asks.”
Kids Days will be held July 24 and Aug. 21, and Donahue said some events in store include an interactive children’s musician, tours of the firehouse, ambulance and police car, face painting, balloon art, story time from the Pittston Memorial Library and other events.
“At this point, I’m still building those days,” she said. “I really wanted to get through the first market since I didn’t really know what to expect, being new to this. Now that I understand the dynamics to this, I can work on building those Kids Days.”
Donahue is not worried about the market’s sustainability when she returns to teaching because she has a plethora of city co-workers to help her out.
“There will be people I’m going to be leaning on,” she said.”When I agreed to take it over with Mayor Mike, he’s aware of my career and my time constraints, especially being a teacher. By that point, it’ll be fine. It’s much busier in the summertime and when it comes to September, October and November, from what I’m told, it runs itself.”
The Pittston Farmers Market is held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday until Nov. 27.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher