Salem - A swarm of women in sun hats, men in baseball caps and excited children descended on Salem Community Park on Thursday for the first farmers market of the season.
One of the first to arrive was First Selectman Kevin Lyden, who asked Garbo Lobsta - a mobile catering business from Groton - to save the first lobster roll for him. About half an hour later, he was eating with his wife in the pavilion, looking on as a white-bearded magician performed for the kids.
Garbo's repainted Hostess delivery truck was more hi-tech than most other vendors at the market. Nearby, a couple sat on the tailgate of their pickup truck, surrounded by orange and pink flowers for sale. On the other end of the park, Salem resident Holly Alligood and her daughter sat in a booth filled with homemade wares.
This was Alligood's first time at the farmers market, which started last year and this year runs through Aug. 29. She only recently began selling the aprons, cards and other items at Salem Pharmacy and the Gilded Edge frame shop.
"You start getting more of a collection," said Alligood, who began making the crafts - such as a kitten-shaped potholder - for her own use. "I started thinking, 'Hmmm, I need to offer it to other people.'"
Another Salem couple, Brian and Cindy Thomas, were at the farmers market for a second year. The Thomases, who own The Plum Tomato at Salem Four Corners, sold a variety of breads and cookies but were nearly out of items within the first hour of the market.
When a little boy toddled up to their stand and grabbed a bag of cookies, Brian Thomas grinned at him. "Enjoy those cookies," he said. "I have one for breakfast every day."
Other children his age hovered around the edge of a cornfield, where a face-painting stand was set up near a pile of hula hoops and flying discs. When a girl sat down at the stand and demanded a purple-and-gold fairy butterfly on her arm, a boy ran from the chair next to her, a glittery neon green skull-and-crossbones flashing on his arm.
The farmers market proved to be entertaining for adults as well. Karen Foster said she, her husband and her daughter like to come to the market to enjoy "peaceful evenings."
"It's a great night for me and my husband," said Foster, who shops for her week's worth of vegetables at the market. "We come and have pizza every Thursday."