Fresh from the farm at Saturday Market
Fresh farm fruit and produce are part of the draw at the Madras Saturday Market, held weekly from June through September, at Sahalee Park in Madras.
The July 7 market was especially active, with hula hoop lessons for kids, two food carts, two live musical acts, face painting, snowcones and free Eberhard's ice cream.
"This year, we are having a special event each month and this is our Family Day in the Park to encourage families to come," said Nancy Klatt, Madras Saturday Market manager.
She said there were 24 vendors that day, and 80 percent of what they sell must be homegrown, handmade or handcrafted.
Those seeking fresh produce could shop several vendors. At Paradise Produce, Terri Buck had carrots, beets, peas, tomatoes, lettuce and beets, while Cena Bartz, of Culver, had homemade jam, garlic, potatoes, and lettuces.
Polly Burkoff, of Molalla, had a booth with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cherries, all of which usually sell out. Local resident Karleen Sykes agreed to operate a booth for Kiyokawa Family Orchards in Hood River, and last week her booth had three kinds of cherries to sell.
The market accepts "Farm Direct Checks," issued to SNAP (food stamp) eligible clients to use at farm stands, so they can buy locally grown produce. Oregon State University Extension nutritionists also offer free cooking demonstrations and recipes at a booth.
"We worked with the health department to bring in more fresh fruit. Randy Kiyokawa is the president of the Hood River County Farm Bureau, and Karleen sells for him," Klatt said.
Klatt noted the market is a member of the Oregon Farm Bureau, Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, and High Desert Food and Farm Alliance.
The market is now called Madras Farmer's and Artisan's Market, in recognition of the artists and crafters at the market. There are vendors with paintings, soaps, herbal products, spices, hand knit, crocheted and sewn items, toys, pottery, cookbooks, jewelry and much more.
The cost to have a booth is an annual $25 member fee, and a $25 fee for each market they participate in. "We have a junior vendor, Hope Wright, who is only 10 years old, and makes jewelry. We give her a junior fee of $12.50 to encourage participation," Klatt said, adding, "It helps them learn business skills and communication skills."
The idea for Madras Saturday Market began in 2003, with the first one held in 2004 at Friendship Park (where Madras City Hall is located). After two years, the market moved to Sahalee Park. Grants from the Jefferson County Cultural Coalition have helped provide funds to give a stipend to live musicians for entertainment each Saturday.
Upcoming special events at the market include the "Wayne Pearson Memorial Market" Aug. 11, with fundraising for a women's shelter; "Art in the Park" on Sept. 1, with Central Oregon artists; the last summer market on Sept. 15; and the Madras Holiday Market at the fairgrounds on Dec. 7 and 8.