BRICK – There was bumper-to-bumper traffic on Princeton Avenue all morning long on Saturday, May 1 during the opening day of the Brick Farmers’ Market.
Police were directing traffic at the entrance to Windward Beach Park, and more police were inside the park, guiding people into the multiple parking areas there.
The popular market, now in its seventh year, opened about two weeks earlier this year than in the past, has expanded hours, and more vendors than ever before have signed on to rent space, said Recreation Department coordinator Christine Hessenkemper, who helps to plan and organize the market every year.
She said the township had counted more than 1,400 shoppers by 11 a.m. Some vendors had already sold out, while others had gone out and brought back more inventory.
Eventually, there will be about a half dozen farm stands, but it’s early in the season for produce so there were only a handful of vendors selling greenhouse vegetables on the first day.
“Every vendor came back [from last year] and we have about six new ones,” Hessenkemper said. “Governor Murphy changed the rules, so now we’re allowing distilleries and craft beers to sell their products to bring home.” Garden State Distillery and Icarus Brewery joined Cream Ridge Winery at the market.
Last year’s precautions are still in place due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, she said. For example, even though it is an outdoor market, masks are still mandatory, vendors are spread apart for social distancing, and customers may not handle produce.
Touted by the township as a market that “inspires open communication between consumers and growers, promotes buying fresh and eating local, and promotes nutritious food choices,” The Brick Farmers’ Market is funded in part by a grant from the Ocean County Board of Commissioners.
Amanda Gardella, who lives in Midstreams, brought her two young sons, Brody, 8, and Maxon, 6, to the Farmer’s Market for the first time.
“It’s nice – we’ll definitely come back,” Amanda said. “There’s a lot of diversity.”
The boys said they’d already bought soap and pickles before they were going to check out the plants and produce.
It was also Juan and Liz Rodriguez’s first time at the market. The couple live off Chambers Bridge Road.
“It’s enjoyable and interesting,” Liz said. “There’s new treats to try. We bought peanut brittle, hot sauce and plants.”
“We’re looking for produce, but there’s only a few vendors right now,” Juan added.
Juan’s sister, Carmen Carrasquillo of Evergreen Woods, said she was enjoying the scenery at the riverfront park.
“When we’re done shopping, we’re gonna hang out and look at the boats,” she said.
In addition to produce, the market offers a range of items, including baked goods, kettle corn, pet products, nuts and dried fruit, jewelry, coffee, sauces, sweets and much more.
There were also a few food trucks on hand, so some were making the day an outing as they stayed for a snack or for lunch.
The Brick Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. until October 2.