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Riverhead farmers market mixes veggies, art

For the next two months, shoppers at the downtown Riverhead Farmers Market will be able to pick up paintings and framed photographs along with their fresh fruit and vegetables.

It's the first time artists will join farmers on a regular basis anywhere on Long Island, said Stephanie Smith of East End Arts, which is coordinating the program.

There are two farmers markets held along the Peconic River waterfront south of the stores on East Main Street. The Saturday market, sponsored by the Riverhead Business Improvement District, is run as both a farmers market and craft show, while the Thursday market is run for farmers.

Artists will be exhibiting their works on Saturdays in July and August, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and exhibition space will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis for artists who pay a $25 exhibition fee, Smith said. The arts group will have volunteers to help set up tents and unload artwork.

East End artist Pat Hyland sees nothing unusual about mixing artwork with tomatoes and cucumbers.

"There are many artists who paint vegetables and farm stands and all that stuff. It's not inappropriate to have artists showing at a farmers market. I think it would be a great idea," the Calverton artist said.

Hyland does a lot of landscapes in pen and ink and watercolors, and likes painting seascapes and lighthouses. She has also done portraits, barns and other farm scenes, which she said would be appropriate for a farmers market audience.

Town Councilman George Gabrielsen, a farmer, said having artwork at a farmers market would be a win for both artists and farmers. "It's a draw. You'd get more people. I can't see it being a bad thing," he said.

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