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Garden Market returns to Wallingford this weekend

WALLINGFORD — Five years ago Jim Files found his niche, diving head first into the world of doughnut-making and opening Dude’s Donuts alongside several other families across Connecticut, including his own.

Files, born and raised in Wallingford, currently living in Wethersfield, is now the operator of a “multi-family” business run out of East Hartford, which quickly garnered fame and praise for its original products: homemade “raised sugar” and apple cider doughnuts served year-round. 

“We do those two doughnuts everywhere we go,” Files said. “That’s what we started out with. Those are our primary doughnuts wherever we go, whether it be a farmers market, a fair, [a] festival, a private event, all of the above.”

Now, for the third consecutive year, Dude’s and its renowned apple cider doughnuts, along with a host of classic and original flavors such as blueberry pie, will make an appearance at the annual Wallingford Garden Market opening this weekend in Doolittle Park.

The outdoor market, chock full of Connecticut-based vendors selling their edible and artisan products, draws dozens of businesses from all corners of the state over a four-month period from May through October. 

The market will feature a rotating list of businesses, changing from week to week, but maintaining a weekly threshold of between 25 and 30 vendors, Superintendent of Recreation Michelle Bjorkman said. Bjorkman credited robust turnout from residents and visitors for the market’s success in drawing in business owners, several of whom, she said, are longstanding repeat attendees.

The result of townwide enthusiasm for the market, Bjorkman added, is a mutually beneficial dynamic between shoppers and shopkeepers who routinely clear out their full inventory of goods in as little as a matter of hours.

Vendors “do very well,” Bjorkman said. “They sell out. We had a bread vendor that couldn’t keep up with it. He was making a couple 100 loaves and then selling out.”

Though the market is open until 1 p.m. each weekend, Bjorkman advised residents and tourists to arrive before 11 a.m. to ensure their favorite stands have not yet been cleaned out by fellow visitors.

“I would recommend, if there’s something that you really know you want, to get there by quarter of 11 at the latest this year so that it’s not sold out,” Bjorkman said.

Consistently netting upwards of two dozen businesses for months on end was no easy task for event organizers. Garden Market Supervisor Jon Scagnelli began reaching out to prospective vendors as far back as January, drawing on years of experience setting up for various farmers markets and an understanding of the fast-paced nature of booking businesses in a state fond of open air shopping.

“You have to plan ahead, otherwise you’re not going to get the vendors you’re looking for because there’s a lot of stuff going on in the state of Connecticut, and if you’re not scooping them up early, they’re not going to show up because they need to know where they’re going for the year as well,” Scagnelli said.

For Files, pulling in to the Garden Market came as second nature, giving him a chance to connect with longtime acquaintances from his youth in Wallingford he remains in touch with despite his move to Hartford County.

Files labeled the Garden Market a natural fit for his business and praised the venue selection, making Dude’s Donuts eager to return to Doolittle Park.

“It’s a great family oriented place, which we fit in perfectly with,” Files said. “I get to see people that I know and grew up with regularly, old family friends, things like that. Plus, it’s a great place to have a farmer’s market.”

The Garden Market will open for business on Saturdays at 10 a.m.emc 


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