Sunday Market Returns for the Summer Season

When the Chester Sunday Market held its opening day June 15, it was ready to return with all of the aspects that had led to its success in earlier years-live entertainment and familiar, friendly vendors. Close observers may notice a change, however-there's a little more Chester Village in this Chester Village event.

According to Sue Hotkowski, who runs the Chester Sunday Market, "[We are] trying to work more with [the local Chester] merchants to promote them more."

New this year, as a part of the effort to boost Chester merchants, are the Merchant of the Week tent and the Market Passport Program.

The Merchant of the Week tent changes every week and is meant to "offer that opportunity for any local merchants that are out there to get their business recognized," said Hotkowski.

She explained that the merchants are often missed because of how the market is set up-the shops are behind the tents, so sometimes people don't see them.

The Market Passport Program is new this year as well. With 20 Chester merchants participating, any customers visiting the market have the chance to get discounts in the offseason should they fill the passport with all 20 stamps, which are available after visiting a shop.

Hotkowski described this as a "way to get people who come to the market to come back" to town.

Local merchants are taking note.

Kim Wilcox, owner of the Cupcakery, said that the market increases her Sunday business "immensely," calling the market "a model for what a farmers' market should be like."

The Host Tent is also a little different this year. In years past, the market has hosted a guest chef, but this year the Host Tent is for any guest vendor who would like a feature at the market. It is a requisite for the vendor to selling kitchen-related or "foodie" products.

Aside from the focus on the local merchants, Hotkowski emphasized that the organizers are careful to "stay small," since the market can't host more than 20 to 23 vendors at a time. However, this year there have been a few new vendors, including a second meat vendor.

The idea of keeping the market small is to create a spacious atmosphere in order to make the market more of a "community gathering," Hotkowski said.

Even with those changes in place, the market's formula remains simple. The market hosts a variety of vendors and entertainment every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Chester on Main Street and will run through Oct. 12. Some of this summer's vendors include: Chatfield Hollow Farms, Hay House Flowers, Stonewall Apiary Honey, Frank Andrews Mobile Kitchen, Four Mile River Farm, The Local Catch, Mystic Cheese, Alforno Bread, McLean Farm, and others. Entertainment changes weekly as does the Merchant of the Week.

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