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Farmers Market Offers Fresh Produce
Cherries, strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes poured in a scarlet river among the subtler colored greens and browns of vegetables at the Riverbank Farmer's Market that opened Wednesday, May 27 at the Community Center Park.

The numbers of visitors for the first Farmer's Market were not as high as the organizers wished. Some expected vendors were missing, the city's market coordinator Norma Manriquez noted. But there was plenty of social activity. The park trees gave much appreciated shade at the end of a scorching day. People browsed the stalls. Older people lined up chairs to hear the live music. The youngsters played on the grass with cylindrical balloons that spiraled into the air like giant pencils.

In a good showing for early days, there were six fruit and vegetable stands, DePalma Farms, Baca Farms, Rodin Farms and Yang Farms under the tents plus two more stalls carrying strawberries and berries set in the shade.

Bloomingcamp Ranch failed to show with their pies, Tupperware was not there and chiropractor Dennis Sinner failed to make the scene, but the food vendors were plentiful. Wild Bill's Barbeque apparently rejected retirement for one more year and was serving succulent spare rib dinners in the Community Center while Castro's BBQ & Filipino Food dispensed chewy chicken on a stick from one of the tents.

Among the fruit and vegetable stands, Yang Farms from Merced was new on the scene. Kao and Chue Yang brought green beans, leeks, squash and onions but also displayed strawberries in the center. They promised okra later in the season and black eyed peas that are their specialties.

Merced has a farmer's market every Wednesday morning and the Yangs had offered their produce there and then driven straight up the highway to sell at Riverbank's market for the first time.

Among the non-food stalls, Cowgirls Consignments from Escalon was displaying handbags, jewelry and sunglasses. Their sign said "Buy, sell or trade." Alongside them the Lollipop Kids had some little girls dancing in rainbow-hued tutus. Nearby, the Ritzy Rag Bag lady was decorating her stall with bags that Manriquez said she recycles from previously used materials.

"She's from Riverbank and a very crafty lady," said Manriquez. "It's good to know we have all this talent."

Tim and Justin of the 209 All Stars provided Wednesday's musical entertainment. The two filled in at the last moment for a previously scheduled band that encountered a medical emergency, said Manriquez. The 209 All Stars will be back in force on June 17.

Fruits and vegetables will be available to senior citizens for free next Wednesday, June 10 when they can collect a total of $20 worth of coupons at the Community Center before starting shopping.

The coupons for seniors shopping at farmers markets are provided by the Stanislaus County Senior Nutrition Program. They can be used like cash to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey at certified farmers markets in Riverbank, Modesto, Oakdale, Ceres and Paterson. For more information, call Senior Information & Assistance at 209-558-8698 or toll free at 1-800-510-2020.