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Market Location A Hit
The first Riverbank Farmer's Market for this year drew a respectable number of customers to its new location in Cool Hand Luke Restaurant's parking lot next to Galaxy 12 Theatres on Patterson Road.

Most visitors praised the switch from the downtown for making the Saturday morning market more visible and likely to attract more customers in coming weeks.

"I'm hoping this will grow," said Angelica Aguilar, shopping with her daughter Daniela for a $3 bag of oranges. "There are more people, more trees, more parking. It's in a central place where people can stop by."

She's thinking of applying to set up a stand there herself, maybe selling lemonade or crafts or something like that, she added.

One fruit and vegetable vendor, Chuck Wolaver, was certain this was a better location than in the downtown adjacent to City Hall.

"We're getting repeat customers from last year and we're getting new ones as well. It must be better," he said.

Wolaver and his wife Delfa were selling peaches, nectarines, squash, onions and garlic at a stall named Delfa's Garden.

Wolaver said they also sold produce at the Oakdale market and had tried a few visits to the Modesto market. Bu that was tough in timing because they both have regular jobs, he in construction work and his wife at a doctor's office.

"We own five acres on Henry Road (just north of Riverbank)," he said. "We have to grow something on that much ground. It's large."

Besides three or four fruit and vegetable stands, there were several arts and crafts stalls on Saturday, selling everything from handmade jewelry to homemade pottery and prints of antique photographs. Local singer Rachel Renae and a band of Zumba dancers provided entertainment and food was available from Purpusas Salvadorean.

John and Lorie Piazza of Creations by Lorie were offering handmade jewelry. Very popular with the girls was the area of the booth where they could string beads together to make their own necklaces and bracelets and buy it for only $1.

Merces Truman of Riverbank had three of her daughters fabricating their own jewelry at that stall.

"We were coming back from a yard sale, saw the market from the street and turned into the parking lot," she said. "This is a much better location. It's easier to find."

Dotty Nygard of Riverbank Community Gardens, the group that has assumed organization of the market from the City of Riverbank, was enthusiastic about the new site and confident the market would grow.

"I've had nothing but positive comments from the vendors because they're getting more customers," she said. "Some even walked here from the neighborhood. I'm hoping to have more produce stalls next Saturday, including a berry merchant and a honey producer.

"And I've found an entertainer for next week. Becky Bjerke says she will sing."

People interested in setting up a stall at the market or contributing to the entertainment are invited to call Nygard at 968-7989.