Port Townsend Farmers Market named best in Washington state

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PORT TOWNSEND -- The Port Townsend Farmers Market, the largest west of Seattle, was recognized as the best large market in the state at the annual conference of the Washington State Farmers Market Association in Leavenworth on Saturday.

Will O'Donnell, who runs the Port Townsend market as well as its Chimacum counterpart under the auspices of Jefferson County Farmers Markets, was on hand to receive the award.

O'Donnell called the recognition "an amazing honor," especially since the market was competing with big-city markets that have hundreds of vendors and tens of thousands of customers.

The Port Townsend Farmers Market draws between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors and 70 vendors each weekend during the peak season, O'Donnell said.

The market which operates Saturdays on Tyler Street between Lawrence and Clay streets between spring and fall, closed for the winter Dec. 18.

It plans to reopen April 2, one month earlier than the opening date for 2010.

Despite having a population base of only 9,000, O'Donnell said, Port Townsend has one of the largest and most successful farmers market in the state and is in the top 10 in both number of dollars of local goods sold and number of vendors attending the market.

The appreciation for local food is increasing, as 2010 was the first time that the market exceeded $1 million in total vendor sales, O'Donnell said.

"There are few places in the country where you find such a concentrated gathering of people who value and support local food and independent business as we have here in Port Townsend," O'Donnell said.

At the conference in Leavenworth, O'Donnell was elected to a two-year term on the Washington State Farmers Market Association board of directors.

One of his priorities in this position is to improve opportunities for local farmers in the weak economy, he said.

Last modified: January 31. 2011 11:37PM
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