SOUTH PORTLAND — The South Portland Farmers’ Market will open for its second season today without four vendors whose licenses were denied by the city.

Licenses were denied for craft vendors Grape Island Glass, Nellie’s Tea and Gifts, The Craftin’ Scot and Wicked Sharp knife sharpening because they didn’t qualify under the city ordinance for the market, which says food products must be grown or made by vendors, said Jessica Hanscombe, the city’s licensing administrator.

Three of the four vendors participated in last summer’s market or the city’s winter market.
Vendors can appeal the denials in Cumberland County Superior Court or ask the City Council to amend the ordinance to include more types of vendors.

Despite the license denials, the market will include a wider variety of vendors than it did last year, when some people complained that the selection was limited. About 10 vendors will begin the season today, while several others will join later in the season.

The market will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday at its new location on Hinckley Drive, adjacent to Mill Creek Park.

Hinckley Drive will be closed to through traffic from 2 to 8 p.m. During market hours, the city bus will pick up riders at the stop on Thomas Street.

The City Council moved the market from its previous location, in Thomas Knight Park, to increase its visibility and boost attendance. The market drew more than 1,000 weekly visitors when it opened last summer, but that number dwindled to around 100 shoppers each week by the end of the season.
Market manager Caitlin Jordan said she was disappointed by the license denials.

“I can understand how they have to follow what (the ordinance) says, but there should be some room for interpretation,” she said.

Marianne Russo, owner of Nellie’s Tea and Gifts in South Portland, said she will appeal the decision in court. She had planned to sell homemade tea blends and scones, as she did at the winter market.
“I certainly was disappointed and surprised since I did participate in the winter market,” she said. “I think it’s unthoughtful of them to include (a vendor) in the market and then exclude them the next season.”

David Orbeton, owner of Wicked Sharp, said he was “completely blindsided” by the license denial after offering his services at the market last summer. He said vendors who sell crafts and services add vitality to farmers markets.

“It’s unfortunate because I think the market will suffer as a result,” he said. “Markets with crafts attract a few more people to the market and make it a little more dynamic.”

Orbeton said he may ask the City Council to amend the farmers market ordinance to include craft vendors.

Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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