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Groups team up to create Exit 20 farmers' market

Eric Proulx of Tanger Outlet Mall and Cindy Reinartz of Tilton Main Street Program hold the ceremonial ribbon as Heidi Laramie of Tanger makes the traditional cut. Pat Consentino of Tilton then rang a bell to mark the opening of a new Wednesday Farmers market at the Route 3 outlet mall. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
July 01, 2009
TILTON — The weather finally cooperated last Wednesday to shine on the merger of local goods and mall shopping as Tanger Outlet Mall and Tilton Main Street opened the newest farmers' market in the Lakes Region.

The vendors are a collaboration of those who participate in the Tilton and Sanbornton markets who now have a second opportunity each week to display their wares. Eric Proulx, general manager of Tanger, said this had been something he has wanted to do for a few years.

"It's just a perfect opportunity for us to give back to the community," Proulx said. "We can bring in customers for them and increase their awareness of products in the area."

Proulx and Assistant Manager Heidi Laramie said their phone began ringing off the hook once word got out that the new marketplace was forming. Local chefs were eager to have a place to buy fresh produce and they received many inquiries from farms and home businesses wishing to participate.

"This has generated quite a buzz," he said.

Flyers were also distributed to stores in the mall to help create excitement for the new venture.

Pat Consentino, a selectman from Tilton, was one of the people who worked to get the market up and running. On opening day she said she was happy to see the welcome they received from Tanger and the community.

"This has been an awesome undertaking but we did it," she said. "We have a tremendous diversity of vendors here. It's just terrific."

Cindy Reinartz of Tilton Main Street and Proulx each held an end of a long purple ceremonial ribbon as Laramie held a pair of large scissors. Consentino rang a bell as Laramie snipped, indicating the market was officially open. Shoppers had been waiting anxiously for the moment and quickly spread out among the rows of booths.

Vince Paratore of Tilton Main Street Program looked on with a smile as buyers began making their purchases.

"This is such a great opportunity," Paratore said. "We can do something at Exit 20 that's related to downtown. The vendors here are also at Tilton's Farmers Market on Saturdays and Sanbornton's on Fridays so this really helps to cross-promote both."

He commended Consentino and Liz Merry of Sanbornton on a job well done in organizing the Wednesday afternoon market.

Farmers, craftsmen, bakers, seamstresses and woodworkers alike were all happy with their new venue. Devyn Abbott of Abbott Farms called the highly visible location an "untapped market." The booths and tables are set up in the parking lot by a pond along Route 3 where thousands of people travel each day. Residents and newcomers to the area will have a chance to sample the fresh produce and shop for unique locally made goods. Organic foods, maple products, wood crafts, pottery, award-winning wines, folk art, ice cream and fruits and vegetables as they come into season are among the many items for sale.

Sixteen vendors will be on hand each Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. Currently there is a waiting list of people looking to participate in the weekly market. Tilton Main Street has also set up a non-profit table for people who would like to sign up for a time slot to promote their organization. Interested groups may contact Tilton Main Street at 286-8668 for more information.

Martin Lord Osman
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