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‘Even better this year’
by Jill Lufrano
Jun 07, 2012 | 1883 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Vendors lure shoppers and their families with free samples at the Sparks Farmers Market in 2011.
Vendors lure shoppers and their families with free samples at the Sparks Farmers Market in 2011.
SPARKS — New offerings are in store for the opening of today’s Whole Foods Farmers Market, held each year at Victorian Square.

The market will celebrate its 20th year in operation this season with more foot booths, live music by Jeff Jones, Stawberry Shorties from bakers at John Acquaga’s Nugget, cooking demonstrations by top chefs

“We are really excited to place the emphasis on food and create the atmosphere for a fun, family event,” said Missy Hinton, spokeswoman for the Nugget.

Organizer Shirley Sponsler of Shirleys Farmers Markets said the market in Sparks has seen many changes from the time she started it two decades ago.

“It’s kind of hard to believe, actually,” Sponsler said, who started as a consultant to the city organizing the market beginning in 1993. “It’s gone through lots of changes. Now, it’s back on the plaza, and it’s really nice. I think it will be even better this year.”

Several vendors will sell the fruits of their labor, including Lattin Farms of Fallon, Schat’s bakery will sell baked goods, vendors will have organic olive oil on hand,

Now getting new things organic olive oil, made by Wild Tree — a first-time vendor with the market.

The market will open one hour earlier than usual. The hours will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The earlier time is intended to put an emphasis on local farmers and food; and give people an opportunity to take home locally produced food to prepare at home.

The market will be located in the Victorian Square Plaza, between Victorian Avenue and the Century Theaters, eliminating the hassle and the expense of closing Victorian Avenue to traffic every week.

“We’re starting to do a lot more food-oriented things,” Sponsler said. “There will be crafts and restaurants. But he focus will be a little more on food, business. There will be live music out there (musical guess to be Jeff Jones), but it will be a little tamer.”

The event will include food trucks, including one from John Ascuaga’s Nugget manned by talented chefs. Five trucks have signed up already, Sponsler said.

Two booths serving alcohol will be ready to pour cool drinks. The Nugget will also serve strawberry margaritas.

Great Basin Brewery and Tres Hombres will take turns serving their brew from a beer booth.

“We know people like to come out there after work, but it will be much more controlled,” Sponsler said.

The Nugget will also serve its famous Strawberry Shorties from its booth in the square.

Sponsler hopes guests will be able to buy some food to take home and some to purchase and eat at the market while enjoying the springtime weather.

Some of the vendors will include Lattin Farms of Fallon, famous for its locally grown, organic produce. This year, the farm will bring its cold weather crops to the table. These will include lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, peas and carrots, turnips.

“Our winter carrots are especially sweet,” said B. Ann Lattin, married to third-generation Lattin, Rick. “They’re really good. We have one patch.”

The greens will be the feature. The farms will also sell Basil, oregano and thyme.

“We sell a lot of our fruit bread, zucchini, pumpkin-banana, lemon-raspberry, chocolate-raspberry and sunshine, B. Ann Lattin said. “We’ll have our Hearts of Gold cantaloupe jam and raspberry-rhubarb jam.”

Lattin said you can taste the freshness of the farm’s organic quality because it’s picked ripe.

“It has very intense flavors,” she said.

Lattin Farms celebrated its 100-year anniversary 2 years ago in Churchill County.

“We’ve been farming ever since (we got here),” she said. The farm was certified organic some eight to 10 years ago, B. Ann said.

Most of venders are returning from last year, but this year, there will be a few new gourmet choices, a jewelry booth, the Roasting House (for coffee lovers), a Greek salad stop called Black Iris serving Mediterranean fare, West Coast with its gourmet hot sauce and a few bakeries. Jamba Juice will also be on hand to temp the taste buds of thirsty visitors.

One favorite return vendor will be Contreras, which sells fresh flowers.

“They will be the main flower vendor at the market,” Sponsler said.

Whole Foods will pay $7,000 for the branding of the market this year.

“It has always been a great event for Victorian Square and Sparks,” said Beth Cooney, executive director of marketing at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, told the Daily Sparks Tribune. “We hope to re-create the family and community atmosphere of the event’s earlier days.”

The farmers’ market contributes to the local economy by not only introducing new business and products to the region, but also by creating local summer jobs. Sponsler said she plans to employ more than 30 people this summer.
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