Harvest Fest marks market’s 30th

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Willowood Farms will be one of the vendors selling produce during the final Coupeville Farmers Market of the season. Harvest Fest takes place Saturday

The 30th year of the Coupeville Farmers Market proved to be fruitful for vendors. Farmers and vendors are seeing more people come to the weekly market and they’re snapping up more food and crafts.

To mark the end of such a successful season, the Coupeville Farmers Market is celebrating Harvest Fest today, Oct. 11.

“We thought it was a great way to close out our 30th anniversary season,” said Peg Tennant, manager of the market.

The day will provide a cornucopia of games and contests, each with a harvest theme.

One of the larger events to take place Saturday is the giant pumpkin contest, overseen by local physician Lee Roof.

Even though contestants had to deal with a less than ideal growing season, people will still be surprised by the gargantuan gourds that will show up Saturday afternoon.

“There’s rumors of one that is over 600 pounds out there,” Roof said. Approximately 20 people are bringing pumpkins for the contest. The pumpkins are so big that a forklift is needed to get them on the scale.

Awards will be given for the prettiest pumpkin and ugliest pumpkin, and folks can try to guess the overall weight of the winner. There will also be a giant zucchini contest.

Tennant said the festival is holding the first-ever harvest relays Saturday. Teams of five people will complete a series of events including the pumpkin dribble, udder pull, potato dig, carry-an-egg-on-a-chopstick, and biting an apple dangling at the end of a string.

The relays also double as a fundraiser for Gifts from the Heart, Coupeville’s food bank.

“We’ve had a good partnership with the food bank,” Tennant said. Because Gifts from the Heart recently added refrigerators, volunteers are now able to pick up produce left at the end of the Saturday markets and disperse it to needy families.

Of course, there is also a farmers market taking place Saturday, which is the last one of the year in Coupeville.

Tennant said she has more than 40 vendors lined up for the final market of the season. There is still a wide selection of fruit and produce available for purchase including squash, onions, corn, apples, pears, garlic, salad greens, plums and blueberries. Breads, baked goods, meat, eggs, kettle corn and ice cream are also being sold at the market.

Tennant said the market was a success this year even though many items were late due to the poor weather. The farmers saw a 20 percent increase in gross revenue and a 10 percent increase in the number of people visiting. She attributed the increase to people’s growing desire to find nutritious food.

“People want to eat well,” Tennant said.

The Coupeville Farmers Market takes place in the field located behind the Coupeville Public Library located on Alexander Street.

The Uniquely Whidbey Biz Expo also takes place in Coupeville this weekend.

Approximately 140 Whidbey Island businesses will be on hand at the high school to display their products and services to the public.

“It’s the biggest one in the Northwest region,” said Sharon Hart, executive director for the Economic Development Council. The expo attracts businesses from all around the island. She added that the two-day event provides businesses a chance to meet customers they otherwise wouldn’t have met.

The Expo, which is limited to local island businesses, takes place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“This is a nice way to end the season and say I want to do business locally,” Hart said.

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