MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The farmers market is coming back.
After debuting in 2019, the COVID pandemic arrived in 2020 and brought to a halt any momentum the summertime event had garnered.
But town officials say the market will now return and be bigger, better and offer a more eclectic array of goodies.
This year’s market, which will be held on Sundays, May 2 through Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will also boast a new location. In 2019, it was held in the parking lot of the Town Hall. This year, it will move to the location of the future Swan Cove park, next to Tompkins Mahopac Bank on South Lake Boulevard. That was the goal all along and it brings with it a new name: Carmel Farmers Market at Lake Mahopac.
Besides having local farmers on hand with their fruits and veggies, the market will also feature food trucks, live music and, on the last Sunday of each month, craft vendors.
“We are so happy to be starting up again this year,” said Nina Kallmeyer, senior recreation leader for the town’s Recreation and Parks Department. “We lost some momentum, but it worked out to our benefit. Last year we spent time reaching out to new vendors all over New York State before we decided to cancel, but that opened some doors for this year. They were all happy to hear back from us about 2021.
The town has also invited local eateries to set up booths and market their cuisine—a move that could boost business during the pandemic.
“We know there are many businesses that are starving, and this is a great opportunity to showcase their food,” Kallmeyer said, “because this is going to be a great place for people to come and get out of the house and get some fresh air.”
Kallmeyer said the move to Lake Mahopac should be a plus for both attendees and vendors. She notes that it is in a high-traffic area, so folks who weren’t aware of the market might impulsively stop in when they see it.
Kallmeyer said the Rec Department will seed the area this spring to create a green space for the market, and some general cleanup will be performed to get the place in shape.
“It will be a great spot,” she said. “Even though they will be doing some construction, we will make sure it will be ready to accommodate it. It’s a prime location for the vendors. It’s a big draw.”
The market featured some craft vendors in 2019, but Kallmeyer said they want to improve on that, so crafts will only be part of the market on the last Sunday of each month in an effort to highlight them and make it a special event.
“We did have some craft vendors the first year, and their feedback was it would be more prosperous if we did it once a month and made it special,” she said. “Something different for people to come and see.”
Kallmeyer said they are currently seeking craft vendors from a variety of categories to take part—everything from candles to soap to jewelry.
“There are so many options,” she said. “We think it will be great because there are no real craft fairs very close to us.”
Many of the vendors from 2019 will return, Kallmeyer said, but the market is looking to expand beyond those to include things such as jerky, cheeses, seafood, meat and organic produce.
“We are looking to double, even triple, the size of the market,” she said. “We are taking applications right now.”
Kallmeyer said she hopes food trucks will become a regular farmers market feature. She envisions people buying lunch and eating on benches overlooking Lake Mahopac.
“And we have the playground next door (in Chamber Park),” she said, “so we will have that all-round family feel. We are also looking to include some type of live music, too. We are not sure how often, but musicians are hungry to perform.”
Councilwoman Suzi McDonough, who serves as the Town Board’s liaison to the Recreation Advisory Board, said she is thrilled the farmers market is making a comeback, especially on the shores of Lake Mahopac.
“When we did the survey for the new master plan, the No. 1 thing that people said they wanted was a farmers market,” she said. “I think it will grow to something big and special. I am looking forward to it. This is a way we can come together as a community.”
“Think of it as a different style of grocery shopping,” Kallmeyer added. “You are outdoors, and people are more comfortable with that. We are so excited to get out and see our residents again. It’s what keeps us going.”
Kallmeyer said COVID protocols will be observed, including masks and social distancing.