Clinton market bursts with colors, flavors

Vibrant colors and informational displays fill an otherwise empty parking lot.

Vendors begin to sell their products to customers during the first Clinton Thursday Market of the year on July 11.

Vibrant colors and informational displays fill an otherwise empty parking lot.

The aroma of Mexican food wafted through the air.

Colorful scarves waved in the light breeze while alpacas nuzzled anyone who comes near.

Music entertained the crowd as people strolled and mingled throughout the booths.

Welcome to the first Clinton Thursday Market of 2013, open every Thursday from 3:30 until 7 p.m. this summer.

Founded in July 2012, it was created by the Clinton Future Search to boost business and spending in Clinton.

Leaders from the Future Search wanted to create a seasonal business opportunity. A weekly market fit that need.

The number of booths varies each week. On opening day July 11, the market offered prepared food, fresh produce, essential oils and beauty products, flowers, information, arts and crafts and jewelry.

Carol Flax, the Clinton Thursday Market manager, cited many benefits the market brings to Clinton and South Whidbey.

“It brings energy to Clinton,” Flax said. “It’s somewhere for the community to go, get together, have a good time and go shopping. It helps the local businesses that are vending here. It’s good for everybody.”

Organizers and vendors hope the market offers a one-stop shop for customers. Shoppers interested in beauty products can buy homemade soaps and lotions by Carrie Peterson at the Nature’s Blessing booth. Peterson also crafts her own soaps dishes.

Flower bouquets are available every Thursday at the Bao Lor Gardens flowers booth. Based out of Snohomish, Bao Lor Gardens sells at several outdoor markets each week.

To find local, fresh produce, the market is the place to shop. Farmers sell fruit and vegetables, grown on Whidbey Island.

Art is available in Clinton, too. Whidbey Island resident Susan Jensen sells pet portraits as well as moon snail plant holders.

Adoring pet owners can email an image of their favorite pet to Jensen, who will create a caricature she said truly shows the personality of the pet.

Alpacas are also a highlight of the market. When they are not confined to their fenced area, the alpacas cruise the market, led by owner Hal Schlomann.

He said his farm, Fern Ridge Alpacas in Clinton, produces alpaca yarn for socks, sweaters and other products.

Whidbey restaurants are in on the Clinton action. The Tres Gringos is one option that serves Baja Mexican cuisine made with local ingredients, from tacos to tamales.

Business at the market is designed to be Whidbey-centric. One booth is dedicated to products made solely on Whidbey Island. There are hats and T-shirts with “Whidbey Island” displayed on them. There are also pretzels made by Joanie Garboe, called Joanie G’s Gourmet Pretzels.

Weekly entertainment adds to the ambience of outdoor bazaar. During opening day, the Tim Donovan Band performed for the shoppers.

Later in the season, Kim Bailey, owner of Pickle’s Deli, will use produce from the market for her cooking demonstration August 29.

With the unique products and local produce, the market offers Clinton at least one day of buzzing business.