by Greg Maher
photography by Rhidian Maehl
The smell of fresh flowers and food lingers in the air. The sight of fresh fruits and vegetables, artwork, clothes and other specialty items, along with the sound of live music, greet shoppers. All of these things collectively produce smiles on peoples faces each Wednesday as they walk amidst the San Dimas Marketplace.
On April 3, the fifth season began for the San Dimas Marketplace and Street Faire. Every Wednesday from 5-9 p.m., the Frontier Village on Bonita Avenue undergoes transformation from an average street full of local businesses to a huge collaboration of booths set up with a variety of items to offer to the public. The goods range from fresh fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, house and garden plants, herbs, nuts, eggs, honey, fresh fish, jams, breads and pastries. Also included are handcrafts, jewelry, toys, clothing, incense, art and plenty more for the home and garden. As if that were not enough, there is organically grown produce, as well as breads and pastries made without cholesterol, fat or preservatives.
Patrons can also treat themselves to many types of food while walking about. Local restaurants set up shop, offering everything from Greek, Mexican, Asian and Italian, to good old-fashioned BBQ. There is an array of dessert. And for the kids, there is a section of the Marketplace that includes pony rides, clowns and face paintings.
Topping things off, local bands perform all evening at the Marketplace. Next Wednesday, Paul Cavin from Disk ‘N’ Dat will perform.
“He is a wonderful entertainer. He sings in a karoake format and it’s great. He is probably our biggest attraction,” said Joyce Pruyn, Marketplace director.
People come from miles away for evenings of fun, shopping, socializing and hanging out.
“My wife and I come a few times a year just to buy house plants,” said Dave Moldera of Pasadena.
Even churches and schools participate in the Marketplace. Rose Alvarez, a committee member at San Dimas Community Church, passed out pencils and magnets with advertisements on them.
“We are advertising for the church,” she said.
Gladstone Elementary School in San Dimas set up a booth selling cookies, hoping to earn enough money so kids could earn a trip to the Lazy J. Ranch Camp in Malibu.
However, it is the farmers who seem to steal the show with the items they bring to the market week in and week out.
“I like to come to the Farmers’ Market and bring fresh flowers to the people, and make some good money all year round,” said Victor Gonzalez.
Each week two farmers are named “Farmer of the Week.”
“We give the honor to the farmers that consistently support our market, and in turn it gives them a little extra P.R,” said Donna Wach, Marketplace manager.
Last week, the Farmers of the Week were Bob Bransfield of Strathmore, Calif., and John and Lois Lindsay, from Fallbrook, Calif.
“I drive three hours every week all year round to come to this market. After about three or four weeks this place really gets a momentum going and it carries it all the way to close,” said Bransfield.
“He has the best olives, gourmet veggies and olive oil around,” said Wach.
“We enjoy being with people. We do a lot of teaching that is good for the avocado industry. We explain how to take care of them because people don’t know how.
“We help people understand if they are ripe and how to refrigerate them. We furnish good avocados so people know what they look like. The grocery store has bad ones. There is never a problem with ours,” said Lois Lindsay.
Other farmers like Jim Vanfoeken also support the Marketplace.
“Coming here cuts out the middle man and makes a profit for me. I am a small time operator selling citrus and nuts and the Market makes me economically viable. It’s nice to come here and earn a weekly cash flow,” said Vanfoeken.
The Marketplace is a non-profit organization with corporate sponsors, including Via Verde Country Club, Raging Waters, San Dimas Community Hospital, Southern California Water Company and the Downtown Merchants Association.