A woman selects a peach for her daughter at last year’s Federal Way Farmers Market. Opening day for the annual market is May 13. File photo

Federal Way Farmers Market opens 14th season Saturday

In its 14th year, the Federal Way Farmers Market will kick off Mother’s Day weekend with fun events, farm-fresh fruits and veggies, food vendors and fun for all.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, from May 13 through Oct. 28, in the Commons Mall Sears parking lot on Pacific Highway South, area residents can expect a number of vendors and events to enjoy.

Opening day is always a big event, organizer Rose Ehl said.

Mayor Jim Ferrell, other city officials and sponsors will kick things off during the opening ceremonies. High school bands will also perform, and there will be other live entertainment for the entire family opening day and throughout the season.

People can also expect about 60 vendors on opening day with food, fresh produce and other items. While the farmers market usually features between 50 to 60 vendors throughout the season, the market might attract as many as 80 for special events. New vendors may also apply to set up a booth throughout the season.

“We’re still looking for vendors,” marketing director Karla Kolibab said. “We accept them all season long because we like a variety throughout the season.”

Ehl is very excited about the number of food vendors being featured this year, especially those with international flair.

She said a Highline College employee has been instrumental in bringing new vendors to the market through the help of a grant that pays for permits and licenses to people who want to go into the food business. As a result, a vendor serving Ethiopian food will be coming throughout the market season. The market will have returning vendors serving Caribbean, Filipino and other Asian food, Ehl said. Other popular food booths feature chicken, American barbecue, mini donuts, beef jerky and Hawaiian shaved ice.

Ehl said visitors can also count on a number of farmers presenting fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the summer and fall, with all coming from Washington. She said the number of fruit and vegetable vendors varies, depending on what is in season, but onions and asparagus are usually the first to arrive, with cherries coming in June and apples in the early fall.

“Once June hits, it just all starts,” Ehl said.

Also returning this year is the USDA Fresh Bucks program, which allows people using EBT cards to purchase $20 of fresh fruits and vegetables for $10. Ehl said she hopes even more people receiving basic assistance will take advantage of the Fresh Bucks program this year.

“It’s a big need here in Federal Way,” she said.

The farmers market will also feature a number of returning events, including an outdoor bazaar and Bark for Life Pet Parade, benefiting the American Cancer Association, Aug. 5.

The always popular chili cook-off, pitting restaurants against each other to see which makes the best chili, will take place Sept. 23. The event, which used to be a competition between the police and fire departments, allows visitors to taste different chili recipes. The event also supports various non-profit organizations in the area. When they sell 50 tickets, the organization collects $10 of the ticket price, while the farmers market collects $2. Last year, the Federal Way Rotary raised the most money.

“So it benefits the restaurants and the nonprofits,” Ehl said.

Ehl said, as in past years, talented high school students will feature prominently at the farmers market. The Decatur High School horticulture class will also be returning with a booth, and this year, students will sell fresh eggs and chicks. School district robotics teams will be offering demonstrations at different events. Other entertainment includes the Halau Hula O Napualani Hawaiian Dance School of Hula and Tahitian from Seattle.

“We like to get as much community involvement as possible,” Kolibab said. “We want to be a community market, as well.”

For more information, or for applications, go to federalwayfarmersmarket.com.

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