M-F cultivates plans for farmers market

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Plans for a new farmers market are taking root in Milton-Freewater.

Mike Mathisen, a Hermiston resident who helps manage the Umatilla Farmers Market, has been developing plans for a market to start this year.

"The excitement is really contagious," Mathisen said in an e-mail.

Though still actively looking for the right site for the project, Mathisen has nailed down several other details.

The new market would take place Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. starting the first Wednesday in June and run through the first Wednesday in October.

The mid-week timing would work around other markets already established in the region: Umatilla's on Thursdays, Pendleton's on Fridays, and markets in Hermiston, Pasco and Walla Walla on Saturdays.

"The goal is to have some vendors go to Milton-Freewater, Umatilla, Pendleton and Hermiston, making a very strong network of fresh-produce markets," Mathisen said.

It's a lofty plan, he said. But he believes it would further bolster the success of other markets and spread the vendors options for selling their products.

He hopes to open this year with a mix of five or six growers, three or four food vendors and five or six crafters, as well as a few wineries or specialty booths. Those interested in joining or learning more can visit www.mffarmersmarket.com.

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A new restaurant and lounge manager has joined the team at the Marcus Whitman Hotel Conference Center.

Dan McCaffrey brings more than 20 years of experience, as well as a wealth of training and ideas, to the position, according to an announcement this morning from the hotel.

McCaffrey spent the past eight years at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. He was bar and cellar manager, as well as sommelier, for the Charles Court Restaurant at the hotel. He also worked with Antonio Campolio, who was recently hired as the Marcus Whitman's new executive chef.

The two have arrived in Walla Walla and are getting acquainted with the operation, a hotel official said this morning.

McCaffrey's work at The Broadmoor included extensive training in wine programs, large-party bookings and staff training. He also facilitated a class on fine-dining etiquette.

Before his work there, he was at the Diamond Steak House in Denver and the Durango Mountain Resort, where he honed his skills in upscale dining and tableside service while also developing new dining programs, the announcement said.

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The Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market Association is calling on artists and market-lovers to help design its poster for the upcoming season.

Contest entries will be accepted through March 1. The winner will receive $200.

Artwork should match 11-inch-by-14-inch dimensions for reproduction quality. All submissions will be come the property of the Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market Association and may be reproduced for promotional purposes, including fundraising. Credit will be given to the artists in all uses.

The winner must be available for signing posters at the Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market opening weekend May 7-8.

Submissions can be dropped off at the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee office located inside the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce at 29 E. Sumach St. For more details, call market Director Beth-Aimee McGuire at 520-3647.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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