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Hyde Park

Farmer's market seeks vendors

The Farmer's Market is set to open March 15, and organizers hope it will become a bustling Saturday event.

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 21, 2003

HYDE PARK -- Imagine sweeping through Old Hyde Park Village in the springtime, stuffing your bags with fresh flowers, crisp carrots and pungent cheese.

The upscale Village is adding a Farmer's Market beginning March 15 to round out its appeal. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Up to 20 vendors will sell their wares in the Village's fountain area. Some may spill into the patio near the former Cactus Club restaurant, says Bob Fernandez, who set up a farmer's market in downtown Clearwater eight years ago and is gathering vendors for Hyde Park's market.

There will be a meeting for interested vendors at 7 p.m. Thursday across from the Blackhawk Coffee Cafe.

Vendors will pay $15 a week to rent spaces or $55 for four consecutive weeks, Fernandez says. They will set up shop in 10- by 10-foot tents with collapsible sides and add-on canopies in case of rain.

"I took on the job because I thought it would be a challenge," Fernandez says. "Hyde Park is a neighborhood and that's what you need for markets."

Because the market will open early on Saturdays, vendors will take care to keep down the noise, Fernandez says.

"Most are half-asleep when they set up anyway," he quips.

If the market proves popular, the Village may seek city permission to close off the main street, says Pat Westerhouse, general manager of the Village.

Now is a good time for a market, she says. Vendors and customers have expressed interest. And Village store owners like the idea, as long as the market doesn't sell competing products.

The lineup includes produce, baked goods, cheeses, seafood, plants, flowers and coffee.

Treci Mattox, manager of April Cornell, a women's and girl's dress shop on the fountain-end of the Village, approves.

"It would bring some people in," Mattox says. "It sounds like a neighborhood, small, non-corporate thing, which is what we try to do."

The market will make the Hyde Park neighborhood stronger, says Don Smith, manager of the farmer's market in Ybor City. It's also open on Saturdays in Centennial Park, but he isn't worried about competition.

"The Village is not a direct line to us," he says. "If they were setting up at the terminal for the electric streetcars, that would be different."

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