Farmers markets across the Merrimack Valley opened Saturday, officially marking the start of summer.
In Andover, the market located at the Center for History and Culture drew in a large crowd at its 10 a.m. opening, as those who anticipated it rushed in to buy fresh produce and other goods.
"We had a good, early morning crowd," said Lauren Kosky-Stamm, director of programs and social media at the History Center. "It's a beautiful day and we're excited to start the season."
Kosky-Stamm said the market, a community event that she said symbolizes summer, is open rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays for the next 18 weeks.
The warm weather and blue skies drew in hundreds of people, many of whom were accompanied by their dogs.
"If the weather stays like this we will be pretty steady," said Kosky-Stamm.
Alanna Martineau of North Andover brought her 1-year-old dog, Piper, as she shopped for fresh produce, noting that the atmosphere made for good socialization for her furry friend. Martineau moved to the area in May 2018 and attended the farmers market in Andover for her second year.
"We try and shop local, so we come here for produce and things," she said.
Martineau said the warm weather accompanied by the cool breeze felt good and she loved seeing Piper's ears flop in the wind.
Melissa Fasulo, who founded Honey Pot Maple Farm with her husband, was selling her products at the market for her sixth year with the help of her 8-year-old son, Anthony.
"This is one of my favorites," she said about the Andover market. "It's such a good location."
Fasulo's business, based in Wilmington, offers a flavorful variety of honeys and syrups. She said her favorite is the cinnamon maple syrup, but her husband is a big advocate for the vanilla.
She said what she does is a dying trade due to the dedication and hard work that goes into making honey and syrup. She was excited to showcase her products and the work she puts into them. It takes 40 to 60 gallons of sap to make just a gallon of syrup, she said.
Other vendors offered baked goods, flowers, wine, skin care products, fresh pasta and more. Gaouette Farm and Swissbakers were among the returning favorites, drawing many people to their tables for their fresh produce and breads.
The 13th season of the farmers market marks the final one at the History Center location. Starting in 2020, the farmers market will be held at South Church.
Kosky-Stamm said the two major factors behind the move are the toll on the landscape around the Blanchard House after many seasons and the limited space. The market has grown to 12 vendors since its inception in 2007. Organizers hope it will expand in future years.