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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 17, 2024

Warm weather sets scene for Farmers’ Market

Wisconsinites from around the state came to Madison's Capitol Square Saturday morning for the 2007 opening of the Dane County Farmers' Market.  


The gorgeous spring weather drew a large crowd of families and friends, despite the small selection of produce due to the early time of the growing season. 


""Its always exciting to get the first market going and coming down and seeing the people,"" said plant vendor Gary Heck of Heck's Market in Arena, Wis.  


Kathleen O'Moore of Middleton, Wis., is a regular at the market and was excited for the season to start.  


""I like supporting local farmers and vendors, and plus, they're characters."" 


One local character, known as ""The Gourd Man,"" is Larry Haas of Blue Mounds, Wis. Haas has been growing and drying gourds for 15 years and is Wisconsin's largest provider of dried gourds. Gourds, related to squash, are dried and hollowed and used mainly for art, like painting or as musical instruments.  


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""It's hard to get them to this point but that's why I grow them—because it's hard to do,"" Haas said. ""If it was easy everyone would be doing it ... it's in my blood."" 


When Haas was not talking to customers he spent time with his friend ""Gourdie,"" a stick man with a gourd head. ""Gourdie"" is reminiscent of Gonzo the Muppet because of his hooked nose and rested quietly next to Haas' stand.  


""He has a hangover,"" Haas said. ""He went out for fish fry last night."" 


The Saturday market has become a favorite in the Madison community because for years it brings people together with a welcoming and fun atmosphere that supports local businesses. 


Many vendors have had stands at the market for many years. Noah Engel of Driftless Organics in Soldiers Grove, Wis., is entering his 15th farmers' market season. Besides agreeing that the atmosphere and people are his favorite part, he said he depends on the financial support of selling on the Square.  


""It's our livelihood, so it means quite a bit,"" Engel said. 


Haas said he appreciates the community and economic value of the market.  


""The farmers' market means I can kind of make a living on my own,"" he said. ""It's just really nice to see a lot of people up here. Its good to get outdoors and out of the field and see all the people.""

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