SALISBURY — The first day of the Salisbury Farmers Market is a lot like opening day of the baseball season.
Like baseball, the Farmers Market is strong confirmation that spring is really here.
Anticipation is high. It's great to see all the familiar faces — the fans, so to speak. And players — the vendors — still have some kinks to work out as they head into the long season.
One curveball this year was the loss of the market's South Main Street location, with its large green canopies. That familiar, highly visible, city-owned site will soon be a construction zone and the future home of Integro.
For vendors and customers, it was hard to leave after close to a decade in that spot
After much deliberation, the Farmers Market settled on a new place — the parking lot of the former Wrenn House restaurant at West Fisher and South Jackson streets.
If grades were being passed out on opening day Saturday, the new location probably earned a solid “B.”
“For the first day open,” Market Manager Harry Agner said, “I'm well pleased. I'm excited about this location.”
County Extension Direector Darrell Blackwelder said the number of vendors — roughly 20 — for this early in the season was good. And customers seemed to have no trouble finding the market, which is across from Rowan Public Library.
Parking was a minor issue on this particular Saturday. Nearby parking lots, which should serve the market on other Saturdays, were filled with the Salisbury Parks and Recreation's annual “Touch A Truck” event.
“I'm just happy we have one,” Erin Dougherty said of a Farmers Market.
A resident of the Brooklyn-South Square neighborhood, Dougherty said the South Main Street location was more convenient, but she still will be able to walk to the new site.
On Saturday, Dougherty was buying blackberry bushes and tomato plants. She noted the new location will be especially handy for residents of the West Square Historic District.
Dan Cosgrove, representing Barnhardt Farm & Produce in China Grove, said he liked the Wrenn House parking lot better than the previous South Main Street location.
The setup and flow of customers through the site is better, Cosgrove said.
“Traffic's been good,” he added. “If it's like this every Saturday, I'll be happy.” He was selling cabbage, onions, eggs, sweet potatoes and the blackberry bushes that caught Doughtery's eye.
Domisty Menius of Wild Turkey Farms in China Grove also liked the new location, though she acknowledged it was hard to make comparisons so early on.
She liked the way customers could move through the market, and the closer availability of bank automatic teller machines also was a plus, she said.
“It's going good so far — I like it,” Menius said.
David Correll of Correll Farms' Red Barn Market said the Wrenn House parking lot has “a little more open feeling” and less congestion.
“And we found a location where we can stay downtown — that's where we want to be,” Correll said, pleased with his morning sales of mustards, collards, endive, onions and other cool season crops.
“Everybody knows where this is. It's not off the beaten path. It's a good address for us.”
Because it was the first day in a new location, some other vendors were more restrained in their enthusiasm. “It's going to be all right,” Sue Eagle of Eagle & Son Produce said. “You know, I'm old — I don't like change.”
She laughed, and added, “We'll make it work ... one way or the other.”
Eagle Produce was selling plants for tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and several variety of peppers. Sue Eagle said the farm's greenhouse tomatoes will be ready in about two weeks.
Dick Petherick of Salisbury dropped by to purchase a tomato plant. He spends considerable time in his car during the week, so he likes to stop in at the library for books on tape.
Having the Farmers Market across the street is pretty convenient for him.
“This is a much bigger space,” he added. “More friendly. I like it here much better.”
It's difficult to leave Kristine Turco's “How Sweet It Is” booth without buying something. She had a wide assortment Saturday of muffins, cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, strombolis and rolls to choose from.
She secured a space next to a big shade tree on West Fisher Street. She set up a portable tent, her tables and flung open the back of her SUV for more work space.
“I'm hoping we will have better parking here, and it will work out,” said Turco, a veteran of the Farmers Market.
Jerry File, who is in his third year of selling birdhouses at the Farmers Market, said it probably was easier for sellers to get in and out at the old location.
But on most Saturdays, he thinks parking for customers will be better at the new spot.
“I think it's just as good a place,” he said, when all the other possible locations were considered.
Shelley Daubenmire, co-owner of The Funky Pepper with Donna Rowland, said she loved the new market location, especially because vendors didn't feel as though they were on top of each other.
The only drawback so far, she said, was not having an electricity hookup.
Daubenmire, a licensed massage therapist, will be adding a new wrinkle to the Farmers Market in the near future. She will be offering 10-minute chair massages.
Debbie Overcash, representing Holton Hollow Farm's Farmstead Cheese, said the Salisbury Farmers Market helped a lot last year in raising the visibility of Farmstead and its hand-crafted cheese made from raw Jersey cow milk.
Before coming to the market, “a lot of people had never heard of Farmstead,” Overcash said. Now, the farm has regular customers at the market.
“We're just glad we have some place,” Overcash added.
For a couple of the vendors, Saturday was their first time ever selling at the Farmers Market, so they couldn't compare it to the South Main Street location.
“Actually for the first day, I think it's pretty fair,” said Jack Trafton, who brought some of his metal artwork from his “Jack's Barter Town” shop off South Shaver Street.
Dave Rogers also was selling his Mama Dave's gourmet dog treats at the market for the first time.
“So far, it's fantastic,” he said. “The traffic's better than I thought it would be.”
Rogers' dog treats are handmade with no preservatives. Because some dogs have flour allergies, he grinds up and uses bean flour instead so his treats are all-protein.
The Farmers Market has about anything, even this early in the season.
It's why some people couldn't wait for its return.
“I was so excited — I could hardly wait this morning,” Joyce Goodwin said. Her tip: “Go early or you miss the good stuff.”
The Salisbury Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays and Saturdays in the 200 block of West Fisher Street, across from Rowan Public Library.