Regina AaMacha is on a quest to bring together local artists, vendors, growers — and customers — each weekend for a farmers market with a twist. AaMacha is one of the driving forces behind the Open Market, which debuted last weekend in a lot adjacent to Hernando Beach Realty at 3357 Shoal Line Blvd.
Open Market, she explained, aims to be an outlet for farmers, artists and musicians to sell their produce and wares and offer their entertainment to the public.
"(It is) an effort to bring business to Hernando Beach and to support growth and embrace culture," AaMacha said. "We want to bring more people to Hernando Beach. People came who said they've never been to Hernando Beach before."
The market will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The evening hours on Saturdays, she said, is so the market doesn't compete with Brooksville's Main Street Market on Saturdays. "We want to support them and they want to support us," she said.
A guitarist and vocalist, AaMacha launched a similar effort in her former home of Rehoboth Beach, Del. She started here last fall by forming Resort Beaches Women in Business, a nonprofit group of local entrepreneurial women. Some of them have signed on to be regular vendors at the Open Market.
Among them are Karen Marquez and Julia Royal, partnering under the name of My Pastry Girl Inc., and selling breads, cakes, cookies, specialty fresh-brewed coffees and Luxe brand teas.
"This is the only market we've done," said Marquez, saying that the duo had relied since its inception last year on phone and Web site orders.
On Sunday, the bakers handed out free samples of zucchini bread, "an old family recipe," noted Marquez.
Saturday evening was "real busy," she said. Added AaMacha, "We had four people in red vests out on the road directing traffic."
Sunday had fewer visitors but Marquez's husband, Pedro Marquez, said on that day, "Everybody who comes in is buying something."
Also new to an on-site marketing venture were Ginger Kyriazis and Amelia Hyler, operating as A & S Edgy Designs. The friends hand-make glass, crystal and semiprecious stone jewelry: bracelets and necklaces of lustrous shine with obvious devotion to design.
"We took classes," Kyriazis said, Hyler meticulously demonstrated threading beads on a string. Magnifying glasses are needed by the senior citizens.
Not new to commerce but hoping to enlarge his business, Joe Lemieux, owner of Green Bean market in Spring Hill, offered and will continue to offer a wide variety of fresh vegetable and fruit produce, all organically grown.
"This time of year, 80 percent is from Florida," he boasted, gesturing to greens, tomatoes, varieties of squash and peppers plus yams, cucumbers, red pears and apples.
While whirling up vegetable drinks and smoothies with organic ingredients for thirsty customers, Lemieux said, "I think the market's going to do very well."
Wayne Naylor of Naylor's Nursery in Brooksville was doing a brisk business at the market selling potted herb, vegetable and flowering plants along with some small citrus trees.
"We go to the people," Naylor said. Of the Open Market venue, he added, "There's been a really good turnout. We're looking forward to continuing it."
A special treat, to be repeated on future weekends, was a demonstration by local chef Brian Alvarez of Brian's Place restaurant, who prepared and dished up succulent samples of yellowfin tuna ceviche. Served on chunks of Cuban bread, the concoction included raw sushi-grade tuna marinated in citrus juices and olive oil with a hint of cilantro.
"I think Regina's trying to do a good thing out here," Alvarez said. "It's only 15 minutes from Spring Hill," from where many of the newcomers arrived.
Special attractions are on the Open Market agenda from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. So far, they include antiques appraisals the first Sunday of each month, art auctions on the second Sunday, cooking demonstrations on the third Sunday, and a musical group the fourth Sundays. Live music is scheduled for 6 p.m. every Saturday.
Of nine vendor spaces at the Open Market, two are designated for business booths, to be rotated according to demand.
AaMacha was pleased with how the event debuted. "The vendors are very happy,'' she said. "Everything is moving forward."
Beth Gray can be reached at [email protected]