Spring has sprung.
Shoppers might be wearing parkas and sipping coffee, but they are turning out in droves on Saturday mornings for the first of the outdoor farmers markets.
The market moved back to High Street in downtown Worthington on May 4 after seven months indoors at the Shops of Worthington Place. It will remain outdoors until October, when the year-round event will return to the mall.
Fresh produce remains scarce, but it's available, and not many people were buying plants or ice cream at the market this past Saturday.
Shoppers said they were happy to be back outside to visit their favorite vendors and to see what is new at the outdoor venue this year.
Fresh, naturally raised tilapia is one new item on the market menu.
Dan and Lisa Jones raise the fish on their farm in northern Logan County, just north of Bellefontaine. They catch the fish the day before market and filet it at the market.
They probably will return a couple of times a month, as the fish seems to be selling well, they said.
Jenn Lewis has sold her baked goods at other markets but recently joined the list of 70 or so Worthington outdoor vendors this spring. She sells chocolate moustaches on a stick, chocolate-covered Oreos and her specialty -- filled cupcakes. They are made with fresh, mostly local ingredients and no artificial food color, she said. She bakes all day Friday so everything is fresh for the market, which runs from 8 a.m. to noon each Saturday.
Selling her goods in Worthington is the realization of a dream, she said.
"Every time we visit here, it is brimming with people," she said. "You just get the feel of a real community here."
The Pie Man, aka Tom Duncan, is selling at the outdoor market for the first time this spring. He sold at the indoor market over the winter and had so much success that he wanted to try the outdoor market.
His cool pies are selling like hotcakes, he said. By 11:30 a.m. May 11, all but five of the 50 pies he brought were sold.
That is what he expected, he said.
"I know it is a big market, and I thought I would do very well here," he said.
Community member Jan Morrison eventually might try the tilapia or the filled cupcakes, but on Saturday she was busy buying from her regular vendors. Each week, she seeks out her favorite baked goods, cheeses, breads, and jams and jellies.
"Is it a few extra calories? Yes," she said. "But it is only once a week, so why not?"
She and husband Randy also talk to the people who grow or make their food and follow the stories of their lives, like people tend to do in a small town.
"I like making friends and seeing these people every week," she said. "This is a really neat community event that brings people together."