Farmers market season started a few weeks late this year, and folks who like to attend them are eager to make up for lost time.

“People’s attitudes today have been wonderful from the start: ‘We’ve been looking forward to this.’ ‘We’re so happy you’re doing it.’ Everything has been positive,” Cathy Muscato said on opening day of the Bethel Park Recreation Farmers Market. “It’s been nice.”

The weather certainly cooperated, as Tuesday’s warmth and plenty of sunshine no doubt helped boost attendance in the South Park VIP parking lot, off Corrigan Drive, which is serving as the market’s venue for the third year.

About 20 vendors were on hand to entice customers with plenty of options for food plus other farmers market-type products.

“They’re very, very happy. They’ve told us that, across the board, markets are doing very well, and ours today is exceeding what they hoped for,” said Muscato, who serves as Bethel Park Community Center director and assistant department of recreation and leisure services director. “We have more vendors to add in. We just wanted to do kind of a soft opening today.”

Safety considerations related to COVID-19 were in place for the season’s first event. Pedestrian traffic was routed one direction for the sake of social distancing, and hand sanitizer was available as people entered the market.

“We have requested people to wear masks, but they are not required,” Muscato said, and some were available at the entrance for folks who hadn’t brought protective face wear.

“We’ve spaced our vendors out quite a bit more than normal to help with the social distancing, and we unfortunately are not allowed to have the seating area, so people can’t get their food and eat it here,” she said. “We’re encouraging them to shop and then take everything with them as quickly as they can.”

Whatever the circumstances, she encourages visitors to patronize the Bethel Park market, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through September, and to attend farmers markets, in general.

“They’re wonderful, because it’s obviously far fresher,” she said about the edible offerings. “You know exactly where it came from. And it’s more than that. It’s the happy atmosphere. This is a festival, essentially.”

For more information, visit www.bethelparkfarmersmarket.com. For those interested in being a vendor or entertainers who would like to be placed on a list for consideration when the market begins featuring weekly performers again, call 412-831-1328.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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