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A variety of vegetables are for sale during last year's farmers' market in downtown Beatrice. The event has been a tradition for around 20 years.

The long winter drought of fresh, locally grown produce is nearly at an end.

The Beatrice Farmers' Market opens for the season on Thursday, marking the unofficial opening of summer. Held in the Country Cookin’ Cafe parking lot at Court and Seventh streets, the market will last from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and run every Thursday until Oct. 11.

The market, which is run by Main Street Beatrice, has been a mainstay of downtown for several years and offers a wide variety of produce, eggs, baked goods and other items from local producers.

This year’s market will feature vendors from Beatrice and rural Gage County as well as Saline, Jefferson, Pawnee and Johnson counties. A couple of vendors will also come from northern Kansas, said Main Street Beatrice executive director Michael Sothan.

There will be a handful of new vendors this year, as well, Sothan said, including a possible clothing vendor, which would be new to the market.

While the market is still a couple months out from peak summertime favorites like watermelon, sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes, plenty of late-spring produce items will be ready for shoppers, as well as locally made baked goods, honey and other food items.

“We'll certainly have lots of eggs,” Sothan said. “Chickens are laying eggs left and right, they love this warmer weather and the grass turning green.”

The market's organizers recommend calling ahead because vendor space is limited. Despite that, the farmers' market is able to accept new vendors throughout the whole season, Sothan said. People interested in becoming a vendor at the Beatrice Farmers' Market can contact Main Street Beatrice at 402-223-3244.

The first batch of produce is likely to include spring greens - lettuce, kale, green onions, beans and root veggies like beets and radishes. The selection will increase as the summer goes on, and Sothan said he thinks people will be impressed with the variety they’ll be able to find.

“I think our vendors have tried to carry a much wider variety of produce,” he said. “These are items that, used to be, you could only Lincoln at specialty stores or at the big farmers' markets up there. But now we have a lot of things like kohlrabi and fennel and all sorts of unique and different local produce.”

For updates on what’s available at the market on any given week, Sothan said to check the market's Facebook page, which will be updated throughout the season.

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