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Farmer's Market Gets A Fresh New Look

This summer's Westport farmer's market has a lot more in store for shoppers than just fresh vegetables. Newly appointed director Lori Cochran Dougall is keeping all the elements that have kept market-goers coming back year after year and adding some fresh new touches designed to draw an even larger audience for 2010.

"The 2010 season is shaping up to be the best one yet!" said Dougall. "Everyone's favorite vendors from the past four years will be back, but this year we have some really exciting new vendors as well." Highlights include a wood-fired oven pizza maker, prepared lunches from Sugar & Olives, and chartucerie, olive oil, grains and fresh pasta vendors and much more.

The market is slated to open on May 27 at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. It has grown over the past several years to include fresh dairy products and seafood, breads, teas, soaps, cut flowers, and more. While an occasional food demonstration was scheduled in 2009, this year there will be a weekly guest chef from a local restaurant who will be on hand to provide visitors with examples of how best to use some of the seasonal items being sold that day. Opening day will feature the chef from Rizzuto's on Riverside Avenue. Other restaurants whose chefs are scheduled to appear include Blue Lemon, Thali, Da Pietro, Barcelona, and The Saugatuck Rowing Club among others. An area non-profit will be featured weekly, and plans are also underway to secure musical entertainment and a weekly, featured visual artist.

With an eye to shoppers with small children, "We are also reaching out to area summer camps and offering parents the opportunity to bring chidlren for a farmers market tour," Dougall continued. "I will walk them through the market explaining what each vendor does and the importance of markets and local food." There will also be a small "kids corner" with activities such as chalk, hop-scotch, and coloring.

Dougall has understood the importance of locally gown food since she herself was a young child. "At a very early age my parents had us integrated into our local farmers market and food co?op. This respect and love for farmers markets has carried into my adult life," she said. She has served as director of a farmer's market in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and she was instrumental in the creation of a new market in Virginia.

Dougall and her team we are working to partner with a local food bank to pick up leftover and donated food at the end of each Market. By joining "Friends of the Market" shoppers will receive weekly discounts and potential other advantages still be discussed.

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