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Rain Plays Havoc With Farmer's Market
Unseasonable rain drowned out Saturday's opening of the Riverbank Farmer's Market and caused the outdoor event to be suddenly moved from the new Plaza del Rio location into the cover of the Community Center and drastically cut back its scope.

The expected fresh fruit and produce stalls were down to just one table representing the Riverbank Community Gardens Association, which was offering boxes of planted herbs, red onions and some squash.

The expected vendors like Bava Farms said they could not handle the hassle of moving their produce inside and back again at the last minute and postponed their appearance until next weekend, said Riverbank Parks & Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick, who arranged the move to the Community Center.

The rain was also causing her department other problems. She had staffed and funded Jacob Myers Park for the crowd expected on a hot, summer weekend only to see virtually nobody turn up and the park deserted because of the heavy rain and unseasonably cold temperatures. In addition, the swimming pool staff preparing for Monday's opening was gathered at City Hall and anticipating final training at the pool. Fitzpatrick said the training would have to go through on Saturday afternoon regardless of weather.

"It's not a good day for recreation," she remarked.

Back at the Community Center, a sprinkling of visitors spotted a rain-sodden sign at the Plaza and found the new locale by 10 a.m. or so.

Local musician Rachel Renae was singing, Starbuck's was selling coffee and some commercial vendors were on hand offering chocolate confectionery, Tupperware and handmade, beaded jewelry. There was also an informational display by the Get Fit Riverbank campaign. (See related story on Page A3 of this week's issue.)

Held during the last few years on Wednesday evenings at the Community Center Park, this was the first Farmer's Market slated this year for a Saturday morning at the Plaza del Rio opposite City Hall and handled by the Chamber of Commerce rather than the city.

Chamber official Dennis Zinner noted the Chamber had done the best it could in view of the rain and predicted next Saturday's event (June 11) will be bigger and better.

The "kettle corn guy" said his product didn't do well with moisture and bowed out of Saturday's event but promised to be back next weekend, Zinner said. Wild Bill and his beloved barbecue had finally retired but there was another barbecue expert interested. A farmer who keeps goats for cheese production and a woman who bottles her own honey have expressed interest as well, said Zinner.

The Stanislaus County Agency on Aging & Veterans Services has announced free coupons for senior citizens to buy fresh produce will be distributed at the June 18 Riverbank Farmer's Market from 9 a.m. until noon while supplies last, said agency spokesperson Jill Erickson.