SCOTTSBLUFF — Even as the season changes to autumn, fresh produce is still available as the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market opened for another season on Saturday.

Market Manager Jana Richard said she got involved in the Winter Farmers Market eight years ago, while she was working at TLC Home and Garden Center before it closed.

“We have no fresh produce in the winter time and TLC was a great facility to house a farmers market,” she said. “Even after they closed, I decided to keep it going for the community and to help out the farmers because there aren’t a lot of winter farmers markets around the state.”

The vendor list was light on the first Saturday of the new season, but the market always picks up as winter approaches.

Fresh produce is only part of what is being offered. Some of the vendors sell things like farm signs, custom-made cribbage boards, crocheting work, barbecue sandwiches, fresh baked goods and even Greek food. And on occasion, live musicians show up to perform.

“We also a feature a nonprofit organization at each market,” Richard said. “We’ve had the Humane Society here, the DOVES shelter and other groups. All the vendors donate into a gift basket that’s raffled off to help support the non-profit group.”

On Saturday, Scottsbluff police officers were there selling pink police patches, which officers will be wearing this month. The campaign is to help increase breast cancer awareness and proceeds from the patches will benefit the Festival of Hope.

A few of the vendors at the first Winter Farmers Market were Kafe Eleni with Greek baked goods, Kiowa Red Angus Beef, Meadowlark Hearth, Bavarian Bites German baked goods and Painter Produce in Henry.

Sisters Jessica and Allison Cotant, high school athletes at Mitchell, set up the Painter Produce booth at Scottsbluff.

“We’re Dan and Tracy’s neighbors so we worked for them over the summer,” Jessica said. “I also helped out at a couple of the farmers markets in Morrill.”

Because the Painters were working other markets in Morrill and Torrington, the Cotant sisters volunteered to help.

“It’s cool to see what everyone in the community has to offer,” Jessica said. “It’s a friendly environment, so I like working with the people.”

While Jessica has worked at about six farmers markets, Saturday’s event was the first one for Allison. She agreed with her sister it’s a friendly environment and they were having a good time.

The Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of the month through March. It’s located in the former Village Garden Center, 1400 E. 20th St. in Scottsbluff, just behind Backaracks.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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