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The market's two children's programs return this year, along with nearly 50 vendors and an array of family activities.

PMG FILE IMAGE - Molalla Farmers Market returns Thursday, May 26.

Market season is back in full swing beginning May 26 in Molalla. The Thursday-afternoon farmers market will return downtown in what organizer Tom Sawtell expects will be its biggest year yet.

Now in its ninth year, Sawtell said nearly 50 vendors have signed up to participate. Molalla's market has seen tremendous growth and nearly doubled in size from the previous year, he added.

"What drives our market is our two programs — our market is totally family friendly; families, kids and pets are all welcome in our market and always have been," Sawtell said.

The market's two kid-oriented programs are Power of Produce and the Young Entrepreneur program. The POP program, which returns this year after a brief pandemic pause, gives kids that are signed up a $2 token each week that they can spend on any fresh produce or plant starts. Kids can choose to save up their tokens for larger purchases, too.

POP has proven to be quite popular — almost 600 kids were signed up before COVID-19 shut the program down. Kids ages five through 12 can sign up at any market.

COURTESY PHOTO: MARIAN SAWTELL - Kids in the Young Entrepreneur program through the Molalla Farmers Market sell their wares.

The Young Entrepreneurs program was started in POP's place last year. Kids in this program, for kids six to 16 years old, sell a product at the market and learn business and communication skills along the way. Kids can sign up through the last market in June to participate.

They will be judged for their professionalism and entrepreneurial skill and at the end of the season and are awarded with a certificate and cash prize.

The program has been recognized by Oregon State University and Oregon Farmers Markets Association for its success.

The market will also host plenty of local producers and artisans — Sawtell has a 'no commercial products' rule. All products sold at the market are made or grown locally.

This year, market-goers can expect to see favorites return, like Lady Lane Farm dairy, Beloved Cheesecakes, Stoller Farms and Sawtell Farms. New vendors, including two wineries and a distillery, will be there alongside other new creator to explore. With vendors coming from all over the region, there will be no shortage of new booths to explore.

"The market is expanding, it's growing, and it's becoming ever-diversified in different areas," Sawtell said.

Throughout the season, the market will hold different events. The Molalla Fire Department will bring in an engine and pets can participate in a costume contest. In addition, the market hosts live musical entertainment each week.

The Molalla Farmers Market is held every Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m. at the corner of Main Street and Fenton Avenue. More information can be found on Facebook at Molalla Farmers Market.


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