YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollectionsAsada

Sights, sounds of Farmers Market lures thousands

January 20, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

Those walking along Main Street in El Centro's downtown Saturday were greeted with the sounds of mariachi music mixed with orchestral sounds and the thunderous drums of school bands.

They also had the chance to enjoy the scent of sizzling carne asada and fresh popcorn.

And, of course, there was the produce.

What Farmers Market would be complete without the produce? All along Main Street from Fourth to Seventh streets vendors, clubs and others sold fresh produce gathered from throughout the Valley.

Sponsored by the El Centro Downtown Association and the El Centro Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, the Farmers Market has been an annual event since 1988.


On Saturday, thousands filled the downtown to enjoy a day meant to bring people together from all over the Valley and to promote the downtown, which recently had a $5 million renovation finished.

Larry Bratton, owner of Brooks Jewelry and president of the DECA, said he was pleased to see people fill the downtown for "another successful" Farmers Market.

He said the event is a clear sign the downtown needs to form a business district to stage more events to bring people to the area.

Bratton said through the money raised by the business district, a manager could be hired to run such downtown events rather than having to depend every year on volunteers.

Up and down Main Street, people said they enjoy coming to the Farmers Market. Many said they come every year, adding they wouldn't miss the event.

Others, including Carlos Gutierrez of Calexico, were attending for the first time.

Gutierrez was enjoying an orange as he walked with his family. He had other bags filled with produce.

"This is great," Gutierrez said, adding he enjoyed the food, the music, the people and the weather.

Pat Urena, recreation supervisor for the city of El Centro, was at a booth selling produce to raise money for the city's youth mini-bike program.

"This is the second time we've done it (had a booth at the Farmers Market) and it keeps getting better," she said, adding the community supports the Recreation Department's efforts by buying the produce. She added farmers have donated produce to help the department.

Farmers donated produce for the Meadows 4-H Club to sell Saturday.

"This is great for the kids," said Kathy Havens, community leader for the club, who said the money raised will go toward trips and equipment for the kids.

The Farmers Market also drew snowbirds, many of whom were stocking up on the fresh produce to take back to their motor homes.

Arthur Knight of Chehalis, Wash., had been at the event since it started at 9 a.m.

He said what he enjoyed most about the whole day was the opening ceremony in which the "Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" were sung.

"It was better than what you hear at professional baseball and hockey games," Knight said, adding it was "a nice opening ceremony."

Bratton credited all those who volunteered their time for the event, in particular those from Turning Point, a Christian-based residential program, who helped set up for the Farmers Market and kept the streets clean during the event.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles