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Downtown Lodi Farmers Market says farewell for the year

Officials: Lodi staple was 'a huge success'

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Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:51 am, Fri Sep 28, 2012.

In between customers walking up to her table, Maria Carmen Mondragon replaces baskets of raspberries, making sure everything is perfectly lined up.

Lodi residents John and Marsha Martinez stroll down School Street, stopping to ask Kathy Grant where she found her three bags of beans.

Standing over a steaming pot of strawberry kettle corn, Alvin Costa whips the kernels around as popping sounds fill the air.

And Nick Anhorn plays his saxophone during a solo while the Lodi High Honor Band's music swells behind him.

These were some of the scenes from the final Downtown Lodi Farmers Market of the year on Thursday. Since June, hundreds of people have descended on School Street to buy fruits and vegetables, look at local crafts, enjoy live music or grab a beer or a glass of wine.

"This season's farmers market has been a huge success. We could not have asked for more perfect weather, farmers, vendors and community support over the past four months," said Jaime Watts, executive director of the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership.

The farmers market only had two hot nights the whole season, and vendors were able to sell their vegetables for longer than usual this year, market manager Jon Tecklenburg said. Cherries lasted longer into the season than ever before, tomatoes started earlier, and sweet corn was available both early and late this year.

"We had almost a full market every night for the whole season up until last week," he said.

Tecklenburg has managed the market for 22 years and is training his coworker for the last 30 years, Dario Orozco, to take over next year.

This year, the number of people attending the market was higher than ever.

"It's the economy," Tecklenburg said. "More people are staying home than out traveling, so consequently, we had higher head counts than we have ever had and we had them for a longer amount of time."

One of the unique aspects of the market is the wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

"We don't have 50 tomato growers or 50 peach (growers)," Tecklenburg said. "All of the growers have something different to offer than other growers."

Even Jennifer Zimmerlee, who has been visiting Lodi for the past month, noticed the diversity of the entire market.

"You have crafts, fruits and vegetables, live music, and you have some of the best produce I have ever tasted," she said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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