In its second year, the Cornelius Boosters Farmers Market thrives in the Walmart parking lot
by: Chase Allgood Market-goers peruse plants, dresses and handmade scarves on a recent Thursday afternoon at the Cornelius Farmers’ Market.

The Cornelius Boosters Farmers' Market is growing this year.

Every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Cornelius Walmart parking lot, vendors sit in their tents awaiting shoppers and chatting with other vendors and those passing through.

The market has grown significantly since the summer of 2010, when it was located in the former Grande Foods parking lot on Adair Street. According to market manager Terry Mullins, the market has grown from hosting five vendors the previous summer to about 25 vendors this summer.

The market has room for 40 vendors and organizers are always on the lookout for more.

It costs $15 every Thursday to set up a tent at the market, where vendors sell handmade products, homemade food or homegrown produce.

Applications are available at the market, and it's never too late to sign up.

Mullins said Walmart's general manager, Colt Benson, offered the use of a portion of the big-box store's spacious parking lot abutting North Fourth Avenue, and she accepted. She describes the relationship with Walmart as 'beneficial for everybody.'

Mullins said Walmart attracts people to the market and the market attracts people to Walmart.

Many vendors agree the location is a good one. Steve Heinrich, who crafts and sells his birdhouses and planters at the Cornelius market, said 'Walmart has been fantastic' - and really cooperative with market vendors.

Despite its youth, the Cornelius market already offers a wide variety of products and services including produce, hot food, massages, jewelry and live music.

Members of What the Funk?, a Forest Grove band, played at the market in mid-June and Mullins described them as a hit. 'They were awesome and people started to dance,' said Mullins, who plans to book the band again later in the summer.

Twice a month

Raina Cunningham and Macie Gerlach, two local girls, also like the live music. They set up their tent twice a month in the Walmart parking lot to raise money for a school trip to Washington, D.C. next spring. The two young ladies spent their entire Memorial Day weekend making handcrafted cards, notebooks, clipboards and more in an attempt to fund their trip.

The two girls, who have been best friends since kindergarten, have been learning a lot about scrapbooking from their parents. Macie's mom, Karen Gerlach, works as a scrapbooking consultant for a company in Utah and has been teaching the girls her craft for years.

Raina and Macie said they treat their booth like a real business and have been learning a lot as they make their own products and keep the books. They finish each others' sentences and agree that the market is fun and that they think it will grow. They're hoping more people will stop by so they can travel with their classmates next spring.

At the end of the tent row, Angie Evers sets up her hot dog cart every Thursday at the market and sometimes she even sells out.

Evers finished building her own hot dog cart in May and has been vending ever since. She said the market has been good to her so far and is very well organized. Evers can also be found in downtown Forest Grove on Wednesdays during that city's farmers market and on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of Frye's Action Athletics on Pacific Avenue.

Other food vendors include a kettle corn cart, a Mexican food stand, an Italian ice tent and a candy booth.

Carolyn and Robert Higgs, who own Carolyn's Deli and Espresso in Forest Grove, set up a tent at the market, where they sell a sampling of their shop's products, including cotton candy, caramel apples and chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Ron Stark also has something sweet to offer. Stark started bee-keeping with his father about five years ago and started setting up a tent this year at the Cornelius market. Stark keeps about 250 hives from which he gathers honey. Stark enjoys the market and his family business. He sells honey at various markets with family members including his son and dad.

Stark sells his honey as a sweet treat, but also as allergy relief. He said he suffered from allergies for years before he started eating honey, and now he is symptom free.

'I enjoy getting out in the community, interacting face to face with the public and providing a product that truly helps people,' Stark said.

Fruits of labor

Across from Stark's honey tent, Sandro and Isamar Chavez, father and son, can be found sitting behind the Crawfords Nursery booth. Sandro has been farming for 15 years and proudly displays the fruits of his labor. He offers a variety of produce for sale and encourages people to look for the raspberries, blackberries, apples, peaches, nectarines, blueberries and various other crops this summer.

Next to Crawfords Nursery stands Melody Gonzales. Gonzales started out selling her jewelry at consignment shops, but she prefers selling her finished products at the market. Gonzales said she listens to what her customers want and tries to cater to them. Her jewelry is designed to appeal to a wide variety of age groups and styles and encourages people to stop by for a unique gift.

Mike and Debbie's Produce occupies a tent where strawberries and rhubarb are sold, and to the left Patrick and Margaret Knight sell their own merchandise. Margaret sells her handcrafted potholders, dress towels and spud sacks. Patrick has been practicing photography seriously for about six years and now sells his framed pictures at the Cornelius market. His work will be showcased at The Friendly Vine in Forest Grove on the first Wednesday of July.

On a blustery day like June 23, the market's center was far from bustling and the wind blew over the musician's tent, a few of Knight's picture frames and one of Brenda Lincoln's mannequins - but that didn't stop the vendors from giving off positive vibes about the market and their high hopes for its future.

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