Farmers markets wrapping up season

There will be big pumpkins, tiny pumpkins, funny painted pumpkins and scary carved pumpkins at the Pasco Farmers Market on Saturday. That's the day of the market's 15th annual pumpkin contest and the last day of the market for the season.

"It's been a good season," said Mike Somerville, Pasco Farmers Market manager. "It started out slow because of our cool spring but picked up right away. All the vendors I've talked to say they've had good sales this year."

"Sure, the Richland market on Friday pulls some customers away from Pasco, but the majority of the vendors there also are selling at our Pasco market on Saturday too," he said. "Vendors and customers at both markets are enjoying locally grown fresh fruits and veggies so that's a nice thing."

Somerville said the last day of the market is festive, not sad.

"We'll have live music from the Sunset View Rugare Marimba Band and two steel drum bands, Bram Brata and OK2Botay," he said. "Plus we have a fun pumpkin contest."

Everyone entering the contest must have an entry form. They're available at the Pasco Farmers Market; at all Tri-City Sun Marts; Grigg's Department Store, 801 W. Columbia St., Pasco; and the Richland Ace Hardware stores, 103 Keene Road and 1415 George Washington Way.

The forms can be turned in to Somerville, the market manager, brought with your entry the day of the contest.

The pumpkins can be painted or carved but they must be completed when brought to the judging.

Take your pumpkin and entry form to the Pasco Market between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Judging will begin at 10 a.m.

Entries will be divided by age: infant to 6 years old, 7-12 years and 13-17 years.

There also will be prizes for the smallest and largest pumpkin. These will be in one category, infant to 17 years old.

"We get some really tiny things sometimes but have never, yet, had one that's really, really huge," Somerville said.

Somerville will choose judges from among the shoppers the day of the contest.

"I just choose people at random," he said. "I try for a good mix of men and women, give them a copy of the entry form and let them decide among themselves which are the best ones in each category."

Prizes will be awarded at 11:30 a.m. for each category. They include gift certificates from Grigg's Enterprises, candy from Super Mex and cookies from Viera's Bakery, all Pasco businesses. Viera's is also donating a cake for vendors and shoppers to share.

For more information on the market or the contest, call Somerville at 509-531-7274. Or go to pascofarmersmarket.org.

Several regional farmers markets already have closed for the season -- Southridge Farmers Market, Kennewick's farmers market; The Market at The Parkway, Richland's farmers market; and the Pendleton Farmers Market.

Four other markets will be closing Saturday -- the Walla Walla Farmers Market; the Prosser Farmers' Market; the Columbia Basin Farmers Market & Craft Bazaar in Moses Lake; Hermiston's Own Saturday Market; and The Ephrata Farmers Market.

The Yakima Farmers Market will close Sunday.