The Village of Colonie is holding its very own Farmer’s Market this year, in Cook Park on Sharon Lane on Thursdays from 4-7 p.m., beginning May 19 and running through October 13. The market, managed by Siena professor Krysta Dennis, has been designed to imitate European farmer’s markets, which Dennis said inspire shoppers to spend more time and socialize with their communities.
“We have such lovely markets in this area,” she said. “But, to a large degree, there’s really this thing at American markets where you just get in, buy things and get out.” In Europe, she said, the atmosphere is more relaxed, and entertainment and prepared-food vendors encourage shoppers to hang out and meet with their neighbors and local businesses. “So to get that relaxed atmosphere,”said Dennis, “we scheduled the market from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays, to serve people who are working and can’t get out in the morning or are away on weekends. And we have a bunch of prepared-food vendors, so it’s easy to go and just have dinner—we have a big pavilion with lots of seating. So, it’s not your town square kind of Parisian neighborhood, but it’s our equivalent here—with a nice park atmosphere and live music; the Little League games will be going on and there’s a really nice relaxed community feel.”
The idea for a new market came from Village of Colonie Mayor Frank Leak, who said he was visiting the Farmer’s Market at The Crossings of Colonie when he decided that the village needed a market of its own. “The mayor noticed that the Village of Colonie was the only municipality around here that did not have a farmer’s market,” said Dennis. “And he is a fantastic guy who really wants to do a lot for the community and so he started to talk to people about who might be able to do this.”
Leak mentioned the idea to Chris Dennis, the chairman of the village’s planning board. He said about three months went by before Mr. Dennis suggested that his daughter, who had just returned from completing her PhD abroad , would be the perfect candidate to organize a new market. “And she’s doing a great job,” he said of Krysta. “We’re getting a lot of good response from the people and she’s found a lot of great vendors.”
One thing that Leak said he appreciates is that Dennis has tried to ensure that the market provides a variety of foods, good and services—while there is no expressed capacity for number of vendors at the market, Dennis said she will turn down applicants who are selling something that can already be found at the Cook Park market. “We want to be sure to support the vendors that we have,” she said. “And, when you go to a grocery store, it’s kind of a one-stop shop, where you can get everything you need in one place; that’s kind of what we’re going for here. We want everyone to be able to pick up everything that they need for the weekend at the farmer’s market to the greatest extent possible.”
Another nice feature is the 130 available parking spaces. “We don’t share parking with Little League,” she said, “which is nice.” While having conversations with the community about what they would like to see at the new farmer’s market, Dennis said that, overwhelmingly, people wanted somewhere to park. So, she said, they moved vendors off of the paved areas and closer to the pavilion to free up parking spaces in the nearby lot. “Where people are walking will be paved,” said Dennis, whose father—a village architect—designed the site plan.
“I think it’s going to be very nice,” said Leak. “The first night, I’m gonna be in my overalls. I was down in Amish country with my daughter a few months ago and I bought a hat that I’m going to wear, so I’m going to be dressed as a farmer with an Amish hat! And we’re going to have a good time and I think we’re going to have a good turn-out.
“Krysta has done such a good job,” he continued. “We were very lucky to get her. She’s lined up entertainment and we’re going to have food there. The seniors are going to do the cooking in the pavilion—pulled pork and chicken and people can have dinner, whatever they want.”
First-year vendors include:
(Anyone interested in becoming at vendor at Cook Park should visit the website at www.cookparkfarmersmarket.com)
Live music will be played each week from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and will feature local artists such as Alyssa Yeager, Slate Hill, Forever Young, Deb Cavanaugh and George Krakat. The Ameros will play the opening day. Additionally, the Siena College Creative Arts Department will also sponsor an August production of “Design For Living,” a play by Noel Coward following the August 18th market at the Frank A. Leak Amphitheater in Cook Park. (The show also runs the days before and after the 18th.)
On May 26 (and future dates, yet to be determined), a Master Gardner will be available to help answer gardening questions, test soil samples and more.