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Farmers market relies on locals

August 9, 2019
By ELIZABETH IZZO - Staff Writer , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Beyond the occasional passersby, Jewtraw Park was quiet last month. A handful of customers silently milled around, eyed wares at a row of booths along the riverfront at the Lake Placid Farmers Market.

Unfettered by clouds, the sun shone brightly over the park even as it began to slip beyond the horizon. The sound of gushing water from a nearby fountain joined the calm whoosh of cars driving by.

At the far right side of the park, wearing a dark blue baseball cap with "YETI" emblazoned in white thread across the front, stood Paul Smith's College student Reilly Peck of Wilmington. Peck is studying in the culinary arts and service management program at the college under assistant professor Kevin McCarthy, who served as the executive chef at The Point in Saranac Lake for 11 years and as a chef at the Lake Placid Lodge for two years.

Article Photos

News photo — Elizabeth Izzo
Tomatoes are on display at a farm stand in Jewtraw Park during the Lake Placid Farmer’s Market.

Alongside his classmates, Peck has been selling noodles made with local ingredients. The students, operating under the name ADK Noodle Company, use the school's kitchen to make angel hair pasta made with eggs from Moonstone Farm in Saranac Lake and sunflower oil from Reber Rock Farm in Essex. Peck said the program is relatively new, and they've seen some success by selling their product at farmers markets in both Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.

Between the two farmers markets, Peck said he's noticed that the customer base is different. He attributes that to the new market hours. It's held from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays now - two years ago, it was held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"This (market is) more for people driving by after work," he said. "The one in Saranac Lake is on a Saturday. Every time, it's packed. It's more of a day trip. This is more for people who nonchalantly grab things for meals in the middle of the week."

Shortly after 4 p.m., around five people milled around the park, not including the vendors. Two wore uniforms.

"We've noticed a lot of repeating customers," Peck said, adjusting his hat and looking out across the sun-drenched field from behind a set of black sunglasses. "There's nowhere else you can get fresh, homemade pasta around here."

A man wearing gray scrubs from the Elderwood of Uihlein nursing home, a small cluster of scallions in his hands, stopped at the booth and eyed a small package of noodles happily. He bought a portion and continued on.

Difficult location

This is the second summer the farmers market has been stationed at Jewtraw Park, down the street from the History Museum run by the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society.

Jewtraw Park is named for Charles Jewtraw of Lake Placid, a speedskater who skated on Mill Pond and eventually won the first gold medal awarded at the first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France. A stone monument in the park was dedicated to him in 1983.

Up until 2018, the market was run out of the St. Agnes Elementary School parking lot off of Saranac Avenue, a major artery for traffic between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Before that, until 2015, the Lake Placid Center for the Arts had hosted the market.

The move to Jewtraw Park was designed to provide a more natural, welcoming environment that would prompt shoppers to spend more time at the market, while directing more foot traffic to the History Museum. The Historical Society agreed to share its museum parking lot for overflow traffic.

Michelle Asselin, co-owner of the Harmony Hills Farmstead in Malone, is one of the Lake Placid market's longtime vendors. She used to man a booth for her farm back when the market was at the LPCA, selling grass-fed beef, Berkshire pork and pasture-raised chicken, turkey and rabbit products. Busy with other things, she stopped for a few years when the market moved to St. Agnes. Now she's back.

She feels the latest location isn't as heavily trafficked as the others were in the past.

"When we were at LPCA, there were a lot more people that would come out. It was central," she said.

Asselin noted that at the time, the sister market in Saranac Lake - also run by the AuSable Valley Grange, like Lake Placid's - was just getting started. The success of that market may have siphoned off some attendance at the midweek market here, she said.

She agreed with Peck about the slight shift in the market's customer base.

"We're not getting the tourists so much as the people who live and work here," she said.

Altogether, the farmers market has 10 vendors this year, including Triple Green Jade Farm, Juniper Hill Farm, WildFlora Provisions, Magic Momma Jewelry, Winding Brook Farm, Staley's Maple, Travels with Luna Woodworking and Wood's Turn by Glen Van Wie, according to the market's website. The Saranac Lake market's site lists 36 vendors.

The Lake Placid market is open from 2 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday through Oct. 9.



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