By Emily Fedor
Last summer, the lot that has sat empty and barren for years along the 200 block of East Drinker Street was given new purpose, filled with new life and stocked with lots of fresh produce. Now, the Dunmore Farmers Market is back open and ready for a successful second season.
The idea of a farmers market in the town of the Bucks was batted around for years. Then in June of 2016, that idea blossomed into a reality with a bit of a push from Borough Councilman Tom Hallinan and the late Karl Wegforth.
“We finally just said ‘Let’s run with it,’” said Hallinan. “I asked Karl if he wanted to participate, and he was more than willing. He adopted it like it was his son and was there every Saturday. He’s a big part of it that’s going to be missing this year.”
Wegforth passed away in January at the age of 63. He was a graduate of Dunmore High School, a former animal control officer for the borough and owner of the old Weggy’s Bar. But many knew him as president of the Dunmore Historical Society.
Last year, he and Hallinan worked together to round up a number of area vendors to set up shop every Saturday during the summer.
A major purpose of the market is to offer shoppers the opportunity to buy locally made products. Borough Business Administrator Vito Ruggiero says it also serves as a way to highlight the restaurants and shops based in the borough of Dunmore.
“The borough is invested in our business district and our town,” said Ruggiero. “So to try and create a one stop shop for all of our residents and get the businesses involved is what we’re trying to do. We’re hoping that the buzz gets out there.”
This year, the farmers market will feature several returning vendors as well as plenty of newcomers, who will be selling everything from sunflowers and fresh baked goods to lipsticks and hairbows.
Hallinan says the market is also welcoming non-profit groups to set up shop this year. They simply have to contact the borough to reserve a spot.
Helene Hopkins, owner of the Scranton-based Mulberry Bush, is bringing fresh produce and flowers to the farmers market for the second year. She says participating in the farmers market has brought new customers to her business.
“It’s always good to get out in the community and let people know what you have,” said Hopkins. “It sounds funny, but a lot of people from Dunmore have said ‘Oh, we had no idea you were there!’”
Jena Romanini, owner of Savvy Home on Blakely Street, is also a returning vendor. This year, her stand will feature a number of products including soy candles and goat milk soaps, as well as some urban-farm style home decor.
As her business is relatively new, Romanini said the market has really helped get her get the word out. She says she’s also enjoyed seeing people come out to enjoy everything the borough has to offer.
“When you drive through Dunmore anymore, it’s not like it used to be on Saturdays,” said Romanini. “When the farmers market’s going on, It’s nice to see people walking through and cars parked everywhere.”
Securing a spot each Saturday comes at no cost to vendors. Hallinan emphasizes the goal of the farmers market is not necessarily to make money, but to highlight the Bucktown business district.
That being said, at the end of this season, vendors have been asked to make a donation to the Dunmore Historical Society in the name of the market’s co-founder, Karl Wegforth.
“Karl was the type of guy who liked getting involved in things that brought people together,” said Ruggiero. “He’s smiling because he sees [the market] is continuing and that more people are getting involved.”
This year, there are more vendors involved than the last, and the hope is that this trend will continue. And when that hopefully happens, Hallinan and Ruggiero say the parking lot adjacent to the VFW building on Chestnut Street could also become home to some market vendors.
The Dunmore Farmers Market is open for business on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. now until September 2.