Riverhead farmers market draws huge crowd

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The new indoor farmers market in Riverhead on Saturday drew so many people that town officials couldn't find enough space inside to unroll their big ribbon for the ceremonial opening.

And the officials got there a half-hour early.

"I couldn't believe it. There were people inside and people lined up to come in," Supervisor Sean Walter said. "We had to do it [the ribbon-cutting] out on the street, and . . . people kept pushing past us. It was an amazing response."

The farmers market was crowded when it opened at 11 a.m. It was still full of people an hour before it closed at 2 p.m. when some of the vendors were already gone, leaving behind paper signs that told shoppers they had sold out.

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The crowd moved on to other downtown establishments. Lines of people waited to get into downtown restaurants, and there was not a single loaf of bread left at the Blue Duck bakery down the street.

Officials explored the idea of holding an indoor winter farmers market in the past, but nothing came of it until this year, when the town and the downtown Riverhead Business Improvement District found a building they could rent for 16 Saturdays. The Long Island Farm Bureau was able to bring together enough farmers willing to give it a try.

Holly Browder, a director of the Farm Bureau, said she initially invited 20 vendors, and hoped to get 15. She ended up with 35, including oyster harvesters, a local wool producer, cheese and bread makers, a local beer brewer and a granola maker.

The farmers market, which is held in the former Swezey's Department Store at 117 East Main St., will be open every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until May 17.

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