Lakeside Farmers’ Market voted No. 1 in Va.

The Lakeside Farmers’ Market was voted the No. 1 farmers’ market in Virginia by patrons who participated in a national contest during the past several months.

The America Farmland Trust’s “America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market Contest” sought feedback and votes from readers nationwide for their favorite markets from among the 7,000-plus in the nation.

Lakeside Farmers’ Market earned 1,393 votes, placing it first among the more than 100 markets in Virginia and third nationally in the “Small Markets” category for markets with 16 to 30 vendors.

In Virginia, Lakeside Farmers’ Market finished ahead of markets in Falls Church, Williamsburg, Powhatan and Charlottesville to claim the honor.

“It’s something that has brought a lot of pride and raises the level of recognition of the market, the vendors and the community itself,” said Peter Francisco, who along with his wife, Sharon, started the market in 2008. The Franciscos decided to actively promote the contest to vendors and customers this year – both in person during market times, through print advertising and online, hoping to win that recognition for the market and the Lakeside region. Now, the market’s supporters are excited about the results, Francisco said.

“They’re proud that they’re associated with the market that won.”

During its peak season (July and August), the market regularly attracted upwards of 1,500 visitors during its four-hour Saturday session, Francisco said. Wednesday sessions draw fewer people but still pull in steady crowds, he said. This year, the Farmers Market Too (an indoor area adjacent to the outdoor market)opened and has attracted another dozen or so food and craft vendors.

“We’re going to have to turn vendors away for the winter season” because the indoor space has nearly reached capacity, he said. Francisco and his wife have enjoyed watching the market grow each year and bring more visitors to Lakeside at the same time, but Francisco also has a practical reason for looking forward to market days.

“I enjoy the food too,” he said, with a laugh. “It’s a real disappointment when things go out of season and I have to go to the grocery store to buy them.”

The Lakeside Farmers’ Market, 6110 Lakeside Avenue, operates on Wednesdays from dawn to dusk and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. For details, visit http://www.lakesidefarmersmarket.net.
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