The farmers market opened Wednesday afternoon as Stephanie Melton looks over a bunch of radishes to find the freshest ones.
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The downtown Hollister Farmers Market opened Wednesday, returning with an array of vendors selling fresh produce and prepared dishes.

Tammy Jackson, the market manager for the Hollister Downtown Association event, said it opened a week earlier than in previous years and that the number of vendors who attend will increase in the coming weeks. This year there are 73 vendors, including farmers selling fresh produce and flowers, as well as other vendors selling fresh honey, beef jerky, sausage and more. The market will run each Wednesday 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. through September.

“We do have more food booths with prepared food,” Jackson said, adding that Vertigo Coffee, of San Juan, returned this year after a hiatus to open a coffee shop. “We have pizza, pretzels and frappes available now.”

There are also vendors selling baked goods such as Heavenly Bakery and Claudio’s.

“Some farmers weren’t able to make it (this week,)” she said, of the Wednesday opening. “We started a week early, and the way the weather has been, not a lot of food that is local is ready. Blueberries are right on the edge and will be here next week.”

She said a few other vendors were sick and couldn’t make it for the first week. But for some vendors who showed, it was a great first week.

Jackson said two strawberry vendors sold out by the end of the day – one ran out by 5 p.m., halfway through the market. Wolfsen’s, a sausage vendor from Gustine, said they had their best sales in four years at the spring and summertime market. Mansmith’s Barbecue sold out of everything but the garlic bread by the end of the night, according to Jackson. The kettle corn vendor rented two spaces this year, one near the end of Fifth Street and another in the parking lot behind The Vault restaurant. Jackson said they set up two spots to compensate for the long lines they had last year.

“It was good,” Jackson said of the turnout. “I was pleased with it. I think it was a little down from last year. … It’s been hard to get the word out, but now that it started people will start talking about it on Facebook.”

Again this year, there will be booths with arts and crafts as well as informational booths for local nonprofit organizations. The first weekend residents could stop by the Hollister Downtown Association’s booth or local political party booths. Music will be played most weeks, on the lawn at Fourth and San Benito streets and in front of Hollister City Hall on Fifth Street. There will be bounce houses for the kids and face painters.

“I hope people come out and support local (vendors,)” Jackson said. “It’s nice to see so many people out downtown.”

David Huboi, who has performed as a solo musician and with the band Luke’s Groove, was excited about the farmers market’s growth over the years. He also credited Jackson with doing an “incredible job” organizing the event.

Huboi and Luke’s Groove played at the opening market last week.

“It’s the party of sorts,” said Huboi. “I talk to a lot of people when I’m out there. Once we get going, we kind of get in a music zone.”

Huboi said he appreciates all the people who come out and enjoy the music – the band plays rock, blues and Taize – which creates a “neat synergy” with the other activities.

“It’s really got a real good community, family feeling out there,” he said.

Editor Kollin Kosmicki contributed to this report.

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