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‘First Saturday’ idea looks like it will last

The Fredericksburg Farmers Market had the last of its “First Saturday” market days last weekend, but it’s looking like the events will return again next year.

The block of Prince Edward Street that is adjacent to the Hurkamp Park market is closed to vehicular traffic during First Saturday markets.

That opens space for up to 21 additional vendors and gives customers more room to move around. There are 42 spaces available when the market is held as usual on the sidewalks surrounding Hurkamp off Prince Edward and George streets. Some vendors use more than one space.

This year the expanded market was held the first Saturday of May through October. A different theme was held each month, including markets focused on health and wellness, children, watermelons, families, dogs and the fall harvest.

Gayle Price, who manages the market along with Mike Morrelli, said she hasn’t started planning for the 2014 season yet, but she anticipates again holding the expanded market on the first Saturday of the month between May and October.

She said the monthly themes may change, but the most popular ones, including the Harvest Festival and Kids’ Market, will likely return.

Some have called for the expanded markets to be held more frequently in season, saying it provides for a better experience.

Peter Meyer, who runs the Kona Ice truck at the market with his wife, said he would like to see Prince Edward closed every Saturday during markets.

“It makes customer service safer and delivers a better shopping experience,” he said.

One downside to the expanded market is that it makes it harder for vendors to set up their stands, Morrelli noted.

On days when Prince Edward is open to vehicular traffic, vendors can park their trucks next to their stands and easily unload their produce. That setup also makes it easier for vendors to leave before the market ends if necessary.

Morrelli said vendors seem to be OK with closing Prince Edward once a month but have not asked for more expanded market days. He also noted that any street closures must be coordinated with other city events that require closing down roads.

The Hurkamp market runs throughout the week, though on weekdays it usually includes a small number of vendors. This year a Thursday farmers market was added in the Mayfield neighborhood.

In addition, Spotsylvania County has three markets, and Stafford and King George counties each have one.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405

bfreehling@freelancestar.com

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