The Maxwell Farmers Market was bustling during opening day in Hermiston on Thursday.
Vendors of all kinds filled the new Maxwell Siding Pavilion, hawking everything from asparagus to jewelry to a steady stream of people weaving in and out of the booths. Outside the pavilion’s shade, customers listened to local musician Dallin Puzey as they sipped beverages from Hermiston Brewing Company or ate from a food truck.
The market inspired some new entrepreneurs in Hermiston this year. Lucia Alvarez said she attended last year’s market and decided to try her hand this summer at selling homemade organic salsa under the name Mama Lucy’s Salsa.
“I didn’t know about it before,” she said of the farmer’s market. “I thought, ‘I can make good salsa!’”
She said she was surprised by the large turnout.
Kira Doyle was another newcomer, both to the market and to selling her product. She had a booth Thursday under the name The Moth and the Moon.
“I thought it was time to take my hobby to the next level,” she said.
She just started selling her “handcrafted, sustainable, plant-based” scented soap at Sassafras Flowers and sells on Instagram at @mothandmoon.apothecary. She wanted to join the farmers market as well, however, to be involved in a community event.
“It’s quite a crowd here,” she said. “I love the setup.”
Julie Holbrook of Jdholbrook Farms outside of Boardman was new to the market but not new to selling her product. She had a table of farm fresh eggs and said she was “very, very impressed” with the market and how supportive people were being. She said farmers markets are important to small farms like hers.
“It gets the public aware of what farmers have and where they’re located,” she said.
Other new vendors this year were selling honey, jam, bread, crafts and leather items. There were also plenty of returning vendors, such as Rolling Stone Bakery and Walchli Farms.
3rd Generation Farms returned with broccoli, spinach, radishes, kohlrabi, kale, strawberries and a spring mix of lettuces — all pesticide-free.
Chris Finley said they were excited to return and looking forward to the season. Jade Mueller, working alongside her at the booth, said she loved the new pavilion.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s really nice. You couldn’t ask for a better setting. And there is great access for the vendors when they’re setting up.”
Imelda Alanco didn’t have a booth at the market, but was browsing the items for sale. She said she hadn’t heard of the farmers market before, but her sister called and told her that there was a caramel corn booth and it smelled delicious.
“That’s the first thing that brought us here, but we’re looking at what else they have,” she said.
Looming over the market is a steel bell tower added just last week.
Mitch Myers, whose company owns the pavilion and runs the market, said it is a replica of the one that stood there in 1900, when the property housed Hermiston’s first fire department. A picture from the time period shows the bell in the foreground and Hermiston’s first bank in the background — a picture Myers was able to replicate with the still-standing stone bank building on the corner of Highway 395 and Main Street.
He said the original bell was taken down during World War II so that the bronze could be repurposed to help the war effort.
The Maxwell Farmers Market will run all summer each Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at 255 S. First Place.