The Richmond Hill Farmers Market held a "soft opening" for the 2017 season Tuesday afternoon at the pavilion in J.F. Gregory Park, with the official opening scheduled for April 4.
"We usually do a test run in late March depending on the weather," said Joy Lee, executive assistant to the city manager. Lee coordinates the market along with Harvey Lashley, director of the city's park and tree department.
"The vendors all know each other and it starts to pick up once word spreads that we're open," Lashley said. "We've got room for 48 vendors and we've never run out of space."
An assortment of goods was on display Tuesday afternoon as vendors and customers alike greeted the arrival of spring on a day that saw temperatures top out at 85 degrees under sunny skies. Vegetables, honey, crafts and toys were among the items for sale.
"It's a nice way to spend an afternoon, especially after the kids get out of school," Lee said. "They can burn off some energy and have a snack and parents can pick something up to take home for dinner."
Lee noted that pony rides are available for $5, the Richmond Hill Fire Department is usually on hand with a bounce house, and the playground is always a popular attraction for children. The market also features on nonprofit group each week as a way to help those entities increase their visibility in the community.
Once change this year is the hours of operation. The market runs each Tuesday from 2-6 p.m., closing an hour earlier than in years past.
"We found that most of the vendors were packing up and heading out by about 6, so we decided to shorten it," Lashley said. "The crowd usually thins out by that time, too."
The Farmers Market will run each Tuesday through early October, and might continue after the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival depending on weather. The GOSF is scheduled for Oct. 20-22 this year.
"Some years we've run all the way into November," Lee said.
The market ended early in 2016 and the GOSF was canceled due to storm damage in J.F. Gregory Park from Hurricane Matthew.