At 4 p.m. every Thursday, the municipal parking lot near the heart of Olde Pickerington Village is abuzz with the sounds, smells and tastes of commerce thanks to the expanded Olde Pickerington Village Farmers' Market, now nearing the end of its second year run.
The market has quickly proven to be one of Pickerington's crown jewels, becoming a centralized place in which folks gather to shop for, talk about and even learn about farm-fresh products.
Market manager Leslie Markworth said she expects the event, which has doubled in size from last year, to grow even bigger in 2015.
"It's been a great year. We have 28 full season vendors this year, but I have some room to grow. I have five spaces we could expand into," Markworth said.
She said the hope is to continue to diversify offerings next year as well.
"We're looking for jewelry, personal care products and good quality craft vendors," she said.
While the anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive, the numbers tell the real story of the market's success.
"We've ranged from 798 to 1,027 people (visiting each week). The 798 (number) was the week of (the) July 4 holiday. Right now we're averaging 900 a week. For a three-hour market, that's great," said Markworth, who was hired to manage the market this year on a part-time basis.
Plans for next year include expanding children's activities and allowing various community groups the opportunity to highlight their offerings, she said.
Vendor Joe Sadowski of Fornof Farm Market in Canal Winchester said the Olde Pickerington Village Farmers' Market been a great success.
"I go to markets for a living. It's one of the better organized markets I've been to, at least in terms of the community supporting it. Getting people in the door is all I can ask for as a vendor," he said.
Pickerington resident Carol Carter, a member of the city's Parks and Recreation Board, said she comes to the market every week.
"People love it. At the beginning of the season it was slow, but now there are melons and sweet corn, there is everything," she said.
Lorraine Walker of Silver Bridge Coffee, based in Gallipolis, said meeting the people who buy her products makes a huge difference as she works to build her brand.
"This is a great place to meet people who care about local products. Lots of grocery stores are getting clued-in that people want local products in their local stores," said Walker.
Bill Brown of Brown Brothers Meats sells free-range turkey and chicken meat.
"It (the meat) just tastes a lot better. Our birds aren't pumped up going through the process with heavy chlorine solutions," he said.
Brown said many of his market customers are ordering Thanksgiving turkeys, with delivery at the Center Street location promised the day prior to the holiday.
The Olde Pickerington Market has emerged as a true community-oriented event, said Markworth.
Markworth said the market wants to honor all teachers and staff from area schools by holding a School Employee Appreciation Day from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28.
"It's great to recognize them and what they provide for our community." she said.
Teachers and staff need only show their identification to participating vendors to receive special discounts and offers.
The Olde Pickerington Village Farmers' Market runs through Sept. 25 and takes place rain or shine from 4 to 7 p.m. every Thursday at its Town Square Drive location, 89 N. Center St.
For a complete list of vendors, go to the Olde Pickerington Village Business Association website at pickerington village.com.