WENATCHEE — Mary Ann Recchia woke up at 4 a.m. on Saturday to pick rhubarb.
To put out the best rhubarb, she says, you have to pick it the same day you want to sell it, "or else it will get all soft and rubbery."
Recchia ended up with 70 pounds of it to sell Saturday at the first Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market of the year. The market is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and Recchia has been coming for nearly two decades.
She grows everything from apricots to herbs to plums in her orchard and garden on Grant Road near the airport.
“The market has definitely grown and definitely improved,” she said. “There’s more music and more things for people to do.”
The Tri-Cities Steel Band Association, a group of marimba musicians, was the entertainment on Saturday. The rest of the summer is booked solid, said market manager Jaxton Wilson.
“Our music, in the past we’ve struggled trying to get a booking every Saturday and now we have a waiting list of maybe 10 to 20 people,” he said. “I think that says a lot about Wenatchee and what’s going on.”
It’s not just musicians lining up; interest from vendors is also way up this year, Wilson said.
The first weekend saw jam and dried fruit from Leavenworth, asparagus from Quincy and micro greens from Malaga.
There were 24 vendors in total — in just a few weeks that number will double as produce around the area ripens, Wilson said.
“I think this is our biggest market ever and we’ve really grown a lot,” he said. “We still have vendors trying to apply.”
It’s been met with equal interest from the community. Attendance was up on Saturday, Wilson said.
“I think the farmers market is a really important thing because it connects people to their food source and it supports the community,” he said. “So rather than spending money that doesn’t go back into the community, this does. Just as an amenity for the Wenatchee area, it’s just a wonderful thing for people to come down and enjoy.”
Reccia felt that interest firsthand — her rhubarb was sold out by 11 a.m.
“Now I’m thinking I should have picked more,” she said.