Aurora Farmers Market thriving in fourth season

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Aurora -- Valerie Aiken of Streetsboro, visiting the Aurora Farmers' Market for the first time this year, pondered what she should buy for her dog at the Baked Earth dog snacks booth.

"Would she like cookies?" Aiken asked a friend, then consulted with Kristy Hitesman, owner of the dog treats business. Aiken wound up buying peanut butter pumpkin cookies for her white female dog Chai, a "Shih Tzu-poodle-something else" mix. "Chai will love these."

Aiken's niece, Skyler, 12, was looking forward to getting some kettle corn.

"I came here a few times last year," Valerie Aiken said. "I like all the selections. There is a lot of variety here."

Variety is a key at the Aurora Farmers' Market, which is open Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. behind the Church in Aurora, which sponsors it. The market, which is in its fourth season, is open through Aug. 27.

The market is operated by Red Rock Farmers' Market LLC, which is owned by Matt Johnson. There are 25 to 30 vendors in attendance each week.

"I try to keep a variety and a balance of high-end vendors," Johnson said. "We try to contract specific and specialized vendors so that no one vendor overlaps their product with another, except of course, the produce vendors."

The market includes maple syrup, honey, bread, cheese, jelly, fruit, vegetables, gourmet seasonings, fresh pasta, quiche, body bath lotion and knife sharpening.

"It's a real meeting place," said Jack Burge, the city's economic development director who oversees the market. "Everybody is having fun. For the most part we've lucked out with the weather."

Burge and Johnson are enthused about a new partnership with University Hospitals and Ahuja Medical Center. Johnson said they're working with University Hospitals "to try and promote a healthy living lifestyle and offer some free health screenings."

THE MARKET also is working with the Rotary Club of Aurora and will have a feature called "Story Time at the Market" from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Parents can bring their children to the Rotary Club tent and have stories read to them while the adults shop.

Also, the Aurora School of Music presents "Music at the Market," where students perform from 4 to 5 p.m. and gain experience by playing in front of a live audience.

On July 9, the market featured a University Hospitals chefs' demonstration and a musical performance by three young women from the Aurora School of Music playing two violins and a string bass. And there was face painting and balloon art.

"There is something for everybody," Burge said.

Aurora's Mary Ann Mareli particularly likes the bread at the market, while her daughter, Teri Mareli, enjoys the fruits and vegetables. "It's a fun place to come," Teri said.

Aurora's Marie Lawrie recommends the lemon blueberry cakes and the shepherd's pies.

Pam Cowper of Aurora likes the market because "everything is fresh and local."

Her husband, Wally Cowper, added, "We're contributing to the local economy."

The farmers market also attracts people from out of town. Bainbridge's Heather Summers likes the fact there is organic food.

Twinsburg's Marcia Wright was there with sons Caleb, 3 1/2, and Nathan, 1 1/2, for the first time. She liked the knife sharpener, while Caleb had his eye on kettle corn.

Burge said it's a chance to watch people enjoying themselves.

"The market has become a popular Wednesday afternoon summer social scene for our residents, in addition to offering a shopping experience for a wide variety of healthy foods and services," he said.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC

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