Vancouver Farmers Market inspires vendor loyalty

Some have been selling their wares for most of its 24 years

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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photo Kaiya Langseth, 5, of Vancouver receives a balloon dog from balloon artist Jim Healey at the Vancouver Farmers Market on Sunday. Watching the happiness is her grandmother, Molly Zinda. Kaiya exclaimed, "Happy St. Patrick's Day," as Healey handed her the creation.

(/The Columbian)

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An estimated 8,000 shoppers took in the Vancouver Farmers Market over the weekend as the 24th year of the downtown favorite opened its nearly eight-month run.

Some of the vendors have been coming to the weekend market for more than two decades.

Kham Prasouvo said this is the 22nd year that Teriyaki House has offered its food at the market.

"Been pretty successful," Prasouvo of Vancouver said Sunday of the opening weekend. "This year is drier."

Columbia River Coffee Company of the Battle Ground area is marking its 19th year.

"Given the weather (cold with some rain), it was great," owner Steven Cronbaugh said of sales, adding, "their favorite coffee vendor was down here."

Many paid tribute to St. Patrick on Sunday by sporting the emerald color.

Five-year-old Kaiya Langseth of Vancouver was decked out with a shamrock headband and lei.

"We like the elephant ears," said Kaiya's grandmother, Molly Zinda of Vancouver. "Really, we come for lunch, and sometimes we find flowers and vegetables."

Kaiya said her favorite is "getting my face painted." She also had a brand-new balloon dog made by Jim Healey of Vancouver. No charge, but a donation is asked for those balloon animals.

"I'd say dogs, overall, are the most popular," Healey said of his creations. His stepson, Dominic Hunter, also is a balloon artist who works the market.

Shannon Wilson of Vancouver was at the market with her daughter, Alara, 4, whose face was painted to resemble a kitty.

"We look at everything," Wilson said. "There's a lady who sells jewelry, who I buy from."

Nancy Xiong seemed happy with sales at C&K Flower Garden of Molalla, Ore. The booth is run by her parents, Christopher Xiong and Kia Lor, and this is their 12th year. They were offering daffodils, tulips, statice and pussy willows. Flowers were $14 for a dozen, bouquets ranged from $8 to $17.

Market Executive Director Jordan Boldt was upbeat. He said about 5,000 shoppers came Saturday, with another 3,000 on Sunday.

"Wonderful," he said of the opening weekend. "The weather held for us. It was a little cold but it didn't prevent people from coming. Numerous vendors sold out."

As the months roll on, look for produce to expand, with greenhouse tomatoes and greens, then asparagus, followed by the berries of June and July, and into the full summer of vegetables. Dozens of vendors sell everything from sweets to dog treats, with many handmade craft items.

The weekend market at Eighth and Esther streets continues through October.