More than 600 community members came out for the Grand Opening of the Farmer’s Market Place at 2846 Main St. in Morgantown on Oct. 27.
“I am so pleased with the outpouring of support, encouragement, and kindness from all the locals. People came from all over, Morgantown, Elverson, Honey Brook, Reading, Gap, Pottstown and more. We did no advertising, just social media and word of mouth,” said market owner Pamela Van der Laan as she buzzed around greeting people with smiles, hugs and high fives as the community came out to shop and eat at this new gathering place.
A drug and alcohol therapist for 38 years, her dream was to go into business and give back to the community through “family wholesomeness.”
Folks waited in the parking lot for the doors to open at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week then came out for Saturday’s Door Buster followed by a steady Sunday. They are open until 6 p.m.
“They greet you when you come in and say goodbye when you leave,” said Linda Jacobs of Morgantown. “This is your friendly neighborhood market.”
Her husband, Roger, nods in agreement while ordering lunch at Mad Anthony’s of Morgantown, a family owned and operated butcher and deli.
“It was so busy I was butchering meat as customers were ordering,” said Mad Athony’s owner Joe Magazzolo. “Everything was moving so fast. We sold out of ribs, steaks. People bought steaks one day and the next day they or their friends came back to buy more.”
Magazzolo gave up a 25-year executive chef position to spend more time with his wife and kids; they all work there as part of the business. His partner Craig Redden Craig, father of seven, runs the Mobile Mess Hall.
“Craig painted the vision and I bought into it. This is dynamic, a dream come true, two families now one big family thanks to this,” said Magazzolo.
The smell of Nan’s chicken corn noodle soup wafted through the air from Two Sister’s Café. Van der Laan and her sister Kathy Bernard made their Nan’s signature soup they grew up on. Sister’s Café also serves children’s favorites like hot dogs and soft pretzels.
“We wanted to feel what we grew up with. Something was missing in this area for a long time,” said Bernard.
Music was in the air as Johnny Cash Barnett played guitar and sang. A local regular at local parades, events and bars for 35 years he played Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” followed by Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Alan Jackson favorites.
“The parking lot was jammed when I got here,” said Raul the Produce Guy at Promised Land Produce. “I sold out of some things by Saturday afternoon.”
Promised Land Produce carries locally grown and organic produce. Limes and lemons colored his table along with home grown potatoes, onions and fruits.
At Ed’s Book Nook, owner Ed Kurtz, his wife Helen and friend Barbara Crockett offered up a blessing. Kurtz is a former teacher and principal at Morgantown’s Conestoga Christian School. A pastor at Living Water Fellowship for 41 years, he ministered with his wife all their lives. Currently, the Director of Torch Community Center, Kurtz said, “I want people to read good books including the inspiring and spiritual. This is a place for fellowship.”
Things were hopping at Froggy’s Entertainment Arcade and Redemption Center. Caleb Richards, son of owner Carey Granger, was attending to the machines with lights flashing as kids cashed in their tickets for candy, trinkets and toys.
Jerry Hall of Honey Brook brought his grandchildren to play arcade games. They won 400 tickets from the Sponge Bob machine cashing them in for goodies.
“I am out every morning. This is now my regular stop. I love the steaks, the hoagies, the people, and the market,” he said.
Eclectic Soul Fusion serves Southern comfort food, mixing food from different cultures and fusing them for signature dishes such as Southern Mac and Cheese, Baked Jerk Salmon Alfredo and all flavors of homemade pound cake on the ever-changing and unique menu.
Momma Donna’s Bake Shop features all-natural ingredients, no colorings or preservatives. Black bottom shoofly pie, banana bread, pastries and pies that change with the season is what Donna Morrisey is known for.
Lisa Hart of Morgantown offers Amish crafts, plants and fairy gardens at A Work of Hart.
These were just a few of the stands at the market.
Van der Laan summed it up. The market was her childhood escape.
“I would cash in my soda bottles, ride my bike to the old farmer’s market and buy my penny candy. Back home in a sometimes crazy life, Nan would make her homemade soup and for all meals, we would gather around the table.”
Van der Laan encourages people to put down their phones, let kids play the old fashioned arcade games while you shop. Then all eat lunch or dinner with family and friends at one of the many picnic tables.
Find the Farmer’s Market Place on Facebook or call 484-769-9109. New vendors welcome.