MOUNT VERNON — After a year of COVID-19 restrictions, the opening day of the Mount Vernon Farmers Market on Saturday brought a feeling of return to normal: busy vendors, customer interactions and families hanging around and enjoying the day.

Twenty-nine vendors — including farmers, craftspeople and hot food vendors — set up their booths at the Skagit Riverwalk Plaza. The market still required customers to wear facial coverings and limited guests to 60 at any one time.

“The market is the best way to get to know our community and customers,” said Melissa Correia of Tangled Thicket Farm, which had plant starts for sale on Saturday and will have fresh produce later in the season. Correia said the Mount Vernon farm relies on farmers market sales in addition to a community-supported agriculture program for business.

Another vendor, Sauk Farm, had never had a booth at the farmers market. The farm, near Rockport, makes apple and grape juice, dried apples and other products. Operations manager Griffin Berger said the markets allow the farm to provide customer education and to test out new products, such as baked goods.

“You get to directly talk and sell to people,” he said.

Unlike last season, vendors are able to hand out samples due to relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.

Many craftspeople also had booths, including Stanford Metal Worx of Arlington. Jesse Stanford, a metal worker, welder and knife maker, said he sells both online and at farmers markets. He said when customers shop in-person, they are able to see and touch products and get a better feel for them.

“(Farmers markets) have been pretty important in expanding and finding new people,” he said.

Philip Dykema and Peter Lundeen of Marysville purchased a metal dragon garden sculpture from Stanford Metal Worx. Dykema said the two like the variety of vendors at the market and the interactions.

“We love coming here,” he said. “We’re very happy it’s open.”

Market manager Tia Entrikin said the market will add even more vendors — up to 46 — later in the season, including the vendor that makes Swedish pancakes, a market staple.

By noon on Saturday, about 950 customers had visited the market. Entrikin said that was a good turnout for so early in the season.

The Mount Vernon Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 9.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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