An hour before Community Day started on Saturday March 20, the Berlin Farmers Market was already bustling.
There were people coming in and out of the market where there are around 75 different businesses ranging from shoe repair to fresh baked goods, from people selling fine art to toys. According to manager Austin Adams-Kaiser, the building is around a quarter mile long.
Outside, behind the indoor market, vendors were busy setting up their stands. The flea market holds more than 700 lots where vendors sell produce, DVDs, clothing and more.
The market is open every week at 9 a.m. on Thursday. From Thursday through Saturday, it closes at 8 p.m., and on Sunday it closes at 6 p.m. On this particular Saturday, the regular vendors were joined by a few local businesses and organizations for the market’s first Community Day. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the front parking lot, there was the Berlin Police Department, Berlin Fire Company, Art by Alysia, Humana Healthcare, Central Jersey equipment, as well as Dr. Hassman’s research institute. In the back by the flea market, there was also a pavilion decorated with bright green balloons that read “Community Day.” Underneath, Ollie Gators Pub hosted a beer garden where the acoustic guitar duo SweetSpot performed live throughout the day. There was also trivia at 3 p.m.
“The reason we’re doing it this year is because everybody had a rough 2020. With COVID and everything being shut down and not being able to socialize, just being around family and friends and the community,” Berlin Farmers Market manager Jenna Sullivan explained. “We thought it’d be a good time to all come together. Still social distance and follow the regulations, but at the same time, you know, let’s celebrate!
“Today’s the first day of spring, so it’s time to get our feet in the right direction for 2021.”
For Community Day, Alysia Mackenzie, Berlin resident and owner of Art by Alysia, painted a large 3-D mural of a flower, ribbons and balloons appearing to burst out of the concrete in the front parking lot where the other local businesses were stationed.
“The mart gave me free reign for the design. The goal was to create something eye-catching, bright, and exciting,” Mackenzie explained. “The piece will be there until it rains.”
From 3 a.m. until a little after 11 a.m., Mackenzie and her assistant had been in the parking lot setting up and painting the mural with liquid chalk. Early on, some onlookers were able to catch a glimpse of the artist at work as she put the final touches on her mural. She crouched on the ground, paint in one hand and tempera paint tray in the other adding color wherever she saw necessary, occasionally wiping the brush against her pants before adding more paint on her brush.
Mackenzie loves doing everything from murals to sidewalk art, and before the pandemic, she would also offer painting lessons. Though she is a longtime Berlin resident, she doesn’t often get to paint locally like this.
“I travel, so I very rarely get the opportunity to work in Berlin,” Mackenzie said. The artist seemed happy to be able to give back to her community.
Adams-Kaiser called the event a great success.
“Between the event going on closer to Clementon Road, as well as the beer garden out back underneath the pavilion, it was a busy day throughout,” he shared over email. “We would love to do this again next year, but we are not sure of an exact date yet.”
Upcoming events hosted by the Berlin Farmers Market include Cruise Night, happening on Friday, April 23 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Jeep NIght on Friday April 30, and more beer gardens. More information can be found on the Berlin Farmers Market Facebook page and https://www.berlinfarmersmarket.com/.