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Last market meeting place for friends

KINGSTON — Despite the chance of drizzle and gusty weather, Kingston Farmers Market diehard vendors and shoppers relish the final market of the season as it is more like a party of friends than the usual vendor fair showcased during summer months. Through the years it has been running in downtown Kingston, the last market has always been like a big dollop of fresh whipped cream on a huge piece of organic pumpkin pie.

“What I remember about the last day is we would have potlucks with the vendors,” said Stillwaters Environmental Center administrative director Naomi Maasberg. She and Stillwaters program director Joleen Palmer have been active in the market since it’s early years, and managed it at one point. “The weather was very seldom, well, it was not great weather. Usually it was three vendors huddled in the rain and wind. I remember they were troopers that stuck it out, and amazingly, we still had customers.”

KFM manager Clint Dudley said the last market — which takes place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today at Mike Wallace Memorial Park— has a different feeling, with a tight-knit group of shoppers sticking it out for the autumn produce offered up until the end-. He said his wife, Cindi, equates the experience to camping with a bunch of friends in poor weather because everyone gathers under the pavilions and shares stories, music and laughter.

“We always have the most loyal produce vendors and they bring in the most loyal customers,” he said. “Cindi really likes them because it’s just like a group of friends huddled under tents talking. It’s not a festival, but it is a gathering of friends.”

Many of the musicians who sign up for the last market know they may not have the biggest audience, but enjoy playing to a friendly crowd. Some of the produce shoppers can expect includes beans, squash, carrots, apples and fresh cider, honey and pumpkins, Dudley said.

“Just about everything except peas and cherries will be there,” he said. “We’re just harvesting our apples right now, and pressing the cider. We have some really great produce at the last few weekends of the market.”

The KFM will sometimes open for special occasions, such as Kingston Country Christmas, but usually that draws a different vendor crowd along with the regulars. Maasberg said those markets have changed a lot as well because of the restrictions on selling cooked and baked goods. But the markets are still enjoyable, and gives everyone a taste of what’s coming in the spring.

“There were several years when the weather was so bad, we didn’t have any music,” Maasberg said. “We didn’t have anything else, but it was still fun.”

“I guess the last couple of weeks is the full on harvest season,” Dudley said. “It’s really the height of everything, and it’s really a good time.”

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