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Live music by Two Fiddles at the Canterbury Community Farmers Market. Courtesy photo.




More than a market
Enjoy music, activities and family fun, too

07/09/15
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



For some towns, the farmers market isn’t just a place to buy products and then leave. More and more markets are adding entertainment and activities, inviting people and families to stay a while and enjoy the day outside. Most markets have live music during the summer, and some have kids’ activities and special events from week to week.

The Canterbury Community Farmers Market has a different theme or activity every week this summer in addition to live music.
“It gets people to linger as opposed to just getting what they are going to buy and leaving,” Canterbury market manager Julie Dewdney said. “It definitely makes the market more fun and friendly, and families are more apt to come if there’s something for their kids to do.”
The most popular event at the market, Dewdney said, is the kids’ scavenger hunt, held several times during the summer. The scavenger hunt has kids go around and ask the vendors questions about how they grow or make their products and how their products are eaten or used. The next scavenger hunt is Wednesday, July 22.
Another popular event at the Canterbury market is the Zu-Mato Festival, where market-goers can enter their giant zucchinis in the “biggest zucchini” contest or get creative and dress their zucchinis in crazy costumes for the “best dressed zucchini” contest. Earn extra points for dressing up with your zucchini. The Zu-Mato Festival is on Wednesday, Aug. 19, this year.
The market also has live music scheduled each week throughout the summer. Musicians perform in a music tent in the middle of the market. Upcoming performers include singer-songwriter Steve Furbish on July 15, blues artist Delanie Pickering on July 22 and acoustic trio Just BECAUSE on July 29.
Dewdney said the entertainment and special events at the Canterbury market give it a different atmosphere than that of a regular market.
“It’s more of a community event,” she said. “It brings more people in on a regular basis, the vendors have better sales and it gives the market a liveliness that has people and vendors coming back year after year.”
The Newmarket Farmers Market is another market that features entertainment and activities. It has live music every week, a kids’ activity table every other week and other special events.
“It’s not like Market Basket where you’re in and out,” Dale Micherone, Newmarket market manager, said. “People tend to stay longer and linger, and the kids can look forward to doing an activity. It makes it more of an experience and less of a chore.”
The kids’ activity is usually a market-related craft or project the kids can take home. The most popular is seed planting, where the market provides pots, dirt and seeds for the kids to assemble; the kids take the pot home and watch their plant grow. Micherone said the kids’ activities allow parents to shop and chat with vendors without distraction while also teaching kids about the value of farmers markets.
“Bringing the whole family to the market encourages kids early on to support local business and buy healthy foods when they get older,” Micherone said.
The live music at the Newmarket market is not only background noise. People often set up blankets or lawn chairs and stay at the market just for the music. Many of the musicians invite kids to get up and dance, sing or play instruments along with them.
Acoustic singer-songwriter Sam Southworth is a favorite at the Newmarket market, Micherone said, especially with the kids. Southworth plays at various farmers markets throughout the summer, including the ones in Nashua, Bedford, Northwood, Rye and Exeter.
“Children derive so much enjoyment from the live performance of songs,” Southworth said. “I always bring egg shakers and jingles, spoons and a tambourine, and most kids can watch my strumming hand and get on board with few problems, and they are thrilled to be ‘in the band.’”
Southworth said farmers markets are one of his most preferred gigs because of the outdoor, intimate atmosphere with an all-ages audience and “good vibes.” He finds that music enhances the shopping experience at a market.
“People want to meet their farmers, talk with them and buy some fresh produce,” he said, “and the acoustic music in the background helps make the whole thing into a seamless tapestry of authenticity.” 
 
As seen in the July 9, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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