Carroll farmers market draws loyal following

November 09, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Nancy Phillips bagged a wooden deer at the Carroll County Farmers Market. The Elkridge resident planned to decorate the twiggy antlers with Christmas lights and place the animal, made of logs and tree branches, on her front lawn.

"My husband was supposed to make me one of these years ago," she said as she paused in her shopping Saturday. "He's deer hunting in Garrett County, and I bet I'll go home with the bigger deer."

She talked a neighbor into buying another deer and said, "Maybe we'll start our own herd."

Michelle Gienow, owner of Nature's Gifts and creator of the deer, called sales brisk. Less than 10 minutes after opening, she had sold four of her herd of 20 -- two to other vendors as she unloaded her truck.

"That goes on a lot here," she said, laughing.

Most shoppers said they patronize the market, open Saturdays through Dec. 19 at the Agricultural Center in Westminster, for its variety and its friendliness.

"The vendors know me by name," said Barbara Jenne of Westminster.

Shoppers come early, often before the market opens at 8:30 a.m., and many stay for lunch.

"We come the first week the market opens, so we don't miss anything," said Leslye Carson of Baltimore.

Celine Wachter of Catonsville bought her sister a hand-made wooden bench, painted with pictures of pigs.

"I didn't want to tell her and spoil her surprise, but she would have bought it for herself," she said. "It's a real family atmosphere here. I always come several times each year to buy the homemade gifts."

John Brennan touted the tastiness of Dorothea's Breads from behind piles of freshly baked loaves, offering shoppers a choice of 14 varieties and several sizes.

"We have a bunch of leprechauns to help us bake," he said. "Keebler took all the elves."

Mr. Brennan, a vendor at the market for the past seven years, said he usually sells out before the 3 p.m. closing.

More than 100 other vendors filled four buildings at the Ag Center with food, decorations, crafts and unique gifts.

Need a magic pillow? Chris Bartsh of Finksburg has hundreds, which turn into cozy comforters. They come in infant, juvenile and adult sizes, she said, pulling a matching quilt from inside the pillow.

How about a potpourri pie from Arley's Garden? Roxanne Risso assured customers the wonderful smell -- "true cinnamon essential" -- would last a long time.

Anita O'Day Bullock, co-manager of the market, said many vendors were concerned about competition from the newly opened Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market on Route 140.

Most realized their concerns were unfounded, as hundreds of

shoppers filled the traditional market on Smith Avenue.

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