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The organization and event celebrates its 40th season this year, a return to form despite fire and pandemic setbacks.

PMG PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Crowds turning out for the downtown Hillsboro Farmers Market in 2014. The event kicks off its 40th season this year and hopes the pre-pandemic-level crowds will return.The Hillsboro Farmers Market returns this weekend to kick off its 40th season.

Market organizers say this year should be a return to form following a couple of down years caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is super-exciting to even think that we have a 40th anniversary and that it's starting in just two days," said market manager Liz Connor. "It's going to be a full season of celebrating."

In 2020, the market was moved to a temporary location and operated as a drive-thru marketplace for seven weeks, without the typical foot traffic or bulk of vendors as in past years.

In 2021, the market returned to its normal location but attendance dipped, as did the number of participating vendors and performers.

Complicating matters further, the market's offices were located inside of the Weil Arcade building, which burned down on Jan. 2.

The organization lost some key program materials, so some past features of the market won't be coming back quite yet. The Market Sprouts children's program won't be conducted this year, or the Market Kitchen demonstrations that have provided tips for how to use your purchased produce and foods.

These setbacks haven't stopped the market from coming back this year, however, which Connor notes is due to the hard work of a dedicated team of volunteers.

The kickoff event for Saturday's downtown market starts at 11 a.m. at the Civic Center Plaza. There will be an address by Mayor Steve Callaway, as well as a piñata bash where attendees can clamor for candy and market tokens.

Other Saturday events include a visit from the 2021 Miss Oregon and Miss Teen Oregon winners, as well as a small animal showcase from the Washington County 4-H Club. Chickens and rabbits will start off the season, though the club will show off animals from its other programs throughout the year.

As usual, the Sunday market will take place at Orenco Station. Both locations will feature live music.

The downtown market will start with a smaller footprint, occupying the city blocks along Second Avenue from Washington to Main streets, and along Main Street from First to Second Avenue. Starting June 4, the downtown market will expand its Second Avenue footprint to Lincoln Street, and the Main Street stretch will extend to Third Avenue.

Connor noted that the markets will have more than 70 vendors, sponsors and nonprofits set up this year — a big increase from pandemic-induced lulls that saw only about 30 vendors participate in 2020 and 2021.

She also touted the return of the market's SNAP Match program, which adds $20 onto the first $20 spent in food stamp benefits for customers.

The Hillsboro Farmers Market runs from April 23 through Oct. 30. You can access the updating list of events and performers by visiting the organization's website.


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