LARGO — The city's popular French Market opens Saturday for its annual one-day shopping festival.
Visitors wandering the market grounds on Indian Rocks Road will find everything from gumbo and grits to French pastries, garden art, repurposed vintage jewelry and shabby chic furniture.
This year, for the first time, the market is a fundraiser for Heritage Village and the Botanical Gardens Foundation. Those who join the Botanical Gardens Foundation for $30 during the market will receive $50 in gifts in a hand-painted, reuseable tote bag.
"The event is a collaborative effort between the Florida Botanical Gardens, Heritage Village and the (market site's) two stores, Julie's Cottage at Provence and Periwinkles at the Cottage," said Terry Berube, membership chairwoman of the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation.
Throughout the day, a video of the Botanical Gardens will be shown and books on Heritage Village will be on display. Authors Wayne and Nancy Ayers will sign copies of their history of Indian Rocks Beach.
The market site is part of the original 80 acres homesteaded by Capt. John Lowe in the 1850s and the property is still owned by the family. The two-story home built by Lowe's son Wesley was moved some years ago to Heritage Village to become part of the village's more than 28 structures reflecting the county's early history.
The French Market was the creation 11 years ago of business owner Julie Papalardo of Julie's Cottage. It focuses its one-day shopping spree on country French, coastal and garden goods. Visitors can also enjoy food and bakery treats. Shrimp, gumbo, smoked pork sandwiches, muffins, French pastries, cookies and beverages will be available all day.
Papalardo's handcrafted wreaths and floral arrangements will be displayed as usual inside her cottage and in the back yard. Anne Smith's Periwinkles boutique that specializes in Vera Bradley merchandise will also sell florals, candles, soaps and creams.
Outside behind the shops, market visitors will find an array of garden accessories and yard art, including handmade potting tables, outdoor candelabras, potted plants, hanging baskets and synthetic succulents that look more real than living ones, recycled and repurposed metal and wood items, and whimsical garden stakes, monograms and signs made by in-house artist Deann Barela.
Papalardo said items offered by more than 30 vendors will feature: vintage jewelry remade into new designs; papier mache bunnies, lambs and carrots made from antique candy molds; handmade soaps; hand-poured candles and pickled vegetables from Flying Pig Pickling in Tampa; shabby chic furniture; and pottery. Art Stone Co. will have orchids and tropical plants and information on their repotting and care.
Admission to the market is free. Free parking also will be available across Indian Rocks Road at Anona Methodist Church. Police will be available to escort pedestrians across the road and volunteers will help carry purchases to the parking lot.