To mark the beginning of the Bellingham Farmers Market’s 24th annual spring season, Mayor Kelli Linville conducted the traditional opening day cabbage toss in front of Depot Market Square.
The morning of Saturday, April 4, marked Linville’s fourth cabbage toss since being elected Bellingham’s mayor in 2012.
Mike Finger, the market’s original board president and a current vendor, said the cabbage toss this year was in honor of Sheila Wollberg, a volunteer for the Farmers Market for 17 years.
Wollberg has worked every Saturday since the market’s existence and saw it evolve from taking place in a parking lot to its own structure.
Linville introduced Wollberg to the crowd and presented her with a plaque depicting an image of the Farmers Market’s square on the front.
“The creation of the farmers market and the expansion makes every Saturday a great day for all the businesses in Bellingham because we get so many visitors, which not only keeps the market going, but helps all the other businesses,” Linville said.
On previous opening days, the mayor or an appointed city official has tossed the cabbage to a younger generation associated with the market, or someone who is selected to represent the generation, Linville said.
“Two years ago, the young woman I threw it to had been selling jewelry at the children’s market, and she had got hired to do market-based stuff when she was 12 [years old],” Linville said. “Getting the young people involved is great, that’s the main thing [behind] the cabbage toss.”
During the ceremony, Linville said the cabbage used for the toss this year was locally grown in order to send a message of the importance of buying and eating local. In the past, the toss used cabbages purchased from grocery stores.
“The cabbage toss was created for the very first market, and [the market board] wanted something that was sort of symbolic,” said Caprice Teske, market director for the Farmers Market. “They thought it was very fitting and akin to the first toss of a baseball game to start a new season.”
Lara Newman, a recent Western graduate who works for Kombucha Town, said she feels positive for the spring season on behalf of all the vendors.
“I feel great about the huge turnout today, and I know we are going to advocate well,” Newman said.
More than 145 vendors and artists are signed up for the 2015 spring season.
“It’s opening day, and it’s exciting since everyone has been shut in all winter,” Finger said. “[Everyone] is excited for this community event starting up, which you can tell with all the good energy.”
The Farmers Market has been in operation since 1993. The market serves as a place for the local community to meet and purchase from vendors specializing in produce, arts, crafts and other handmade goods.
The market is located at 1100 Railroad Ave in between East Chestnut Street and East Maple Street, and is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday from April until Christmas.