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Published: Monday, 5/26/2008

Toledo Farmers' Market's Flower Day blooms with crowds

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Megan O'Connor and Milissa Fordcharter, both of Toledo, seem happy with their choices during Toledo's annual Flower Day weekend. The event continues from 8 a.m. to noon today. Megan O'Connor and Milissa Fordcharter, both of Toledo, seem happy with their choices during Toledo's annual Flower Day weekend. The event continues from 8 a.m. to noon today.
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A troubling economy and record-high gas prices are failing to put a damper on Flower Day Weekend, an annual event at the Toledo Farmers' Market, next to the Erie Street Market in the downtown Warehouse District.

"They are spending like there's no tomorrow," said Patty Zemnicki, 48, of Oregon, who yesterday was selling a variety of plant species.

"I am surprised because of the $4.14 gas. I was thinking about what I call three F's - will people be buying fuel, food, or flowers? Obviously, it's all three."

Her sister, Julie Zemnicki, agreed, adding that their sales weren't noticeably different from last year.

Henry Clark, 5, looks at a plant from one of dozens of vendors at Flower Day Weekend. Amy Riese of Toledo has her hands full after checking out the vendors at the event near the Erie Street Market. Henry Clark, 5, looks at a plant from one of dozens of vendors at Flower Day Weekend. Amy Riese of Toledo has her hands full after checking out the vendors at the event near the Erie Street Market.
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The market grounds were filled with a crowd of people who clearly were enjoying themselves in the sunny weather.

Blue-grass music, played by Ten Mile Creek, a local band, added to the atmosphere.

The sisters were standing behind a counter of plants from Zemnicki Greenhouse & Farm in Oregon, owned by their father, Bill Zemnicki.

They were among dozens of area vendors who were selling flowers and other plants.

Some of the people were munching on baked goods bought on the spot; others were chatting as they walked along the stalls, checking out the inventory.

Still others were hauling the plants they bought - some by crates - to vehicles parked nearby.

Among the latter were Tom Blomquist, 28, a University of Toledo medical and doctoral student, and his wife, Stefanie Fujii, 27, a billing coordinator for a therapy clinic in Oregon.

The couple had with them a crate and a bag filled with 14 kinds of flowers, which they bought for a flower garden in front of their Perrysburg Township townhouse.

Mary Weirich and daughter Sherry, both of Toledo, browse plants available from dozens of area vendors. Mary Weirich and daughter Sherry, both of Toledo, browse plants available from dozens of area vendors.
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"This is the busiest we've seen this market so far," Mr. Blomquist said.

Originally from San Jose, Calif., the couple moved to Toledo three years ago and has since visited the Farmers' Market regularly in the summer, Mr. Blomquist said.

"This place could use more things, too, like the one in San Francisco - [things such as] artists' kiosks and vendors selling specialty foods, for example, specialty cheeses," his wife said.

There were others who shared her thought.

"There used to be a lot more vendors indoors at the Erie Street Market," Rose Henderson, 75, a West Toledo homemaker, said.

"I hope they can all come back. If they have different types of things, they'll draw more people here for events like this."

Nevertheless, the crowd at the Toledo Farmers' Market yesterday was larger than on the Flower Day five years ago, Ms. Henderson said.

Amy Riese of Toledo has her hands full after checking out the vendors at the event near the Erie Street Market. Amy Riese of Toledo has her hands full after checking out the vendors at the event near the Erie Street Market.
THE BLADE/HERRAL LONG Enlarge | Buy This Photo

"I hope they can keep it going because this is one of main attractions that brings people to downtown Toledo."

Maureen Mohney, 30, a mother of three from Point Place, agreed.

"It's very nice for the size. And there's a lot of variety here," Mrs. Mohney said. "And it's good that they've got food right here - you don't have to go anywhere - even inside - which can be difficult with the stroller and the kids."

Mrs. Mohney was in the company of her husband, Ken Mohney, 39, and their three children - Brendan, 4; Moira, 2, and Kieran, 10 months, the one in the stroller.

Originally from Pittsburgh, the couple has lived in Toledo for four years.

Mr. Mohney said he, too, liked being at the Farmers' Market.

"I am your regular Indiana Jones," said Mr. Mohney, a Monroe County Community College professor of anthropology. "I still haven't seen the new Indiana Jones movie, and here I am at the Farmers' Market."

The Flower Day Weekend continues from 8 a.m. to noon today at the Toledo Farmers' Market.

Contact Mike Sigov at:

sigov@theblade.com

or 419-724-6074.



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