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Homer Farmers Market holds Zucchini Fest after years of cancellations

The Homer Farmers Market held the first Zucchini Fest since 2019, welcoming families to an afternoon of races and a parade centered around the summer squash.

Joey Lothian led a crowd through a countdown for a familiar festival’s races last Saturday at the Homer Farmers Market, with everyone chanting “Three, two, one, zucchini!” Competitors then dropped racecars down a short track set up by event organizers.

Earlier that day, tents sheltered families from the rain as they gathered to build cars for Zucchini Fest. The only catch – the cars needed zucchinis attached to them, which could be purchased in the market.

Tubs filled with toy cars, ribbons, duct tape, rubber bands and figurines sat ready for people to use. Luce Raderman, one of more than ten racers, took full advantage of the supplies provided.

“I have two trolls, a tiger, an entire roll of tape, two sea shell necklaces, control panels in the car that I kind of want,” Raderman said.

After assembling their cars, the market held a parade where they crowned the Zucchini Queenie, the event’s version of a fair queen. Zuba Dorvell, the 2019 queen, led the parade around the market and crowned Jennifer Castellani as this year’s queen, donning her with a crown and cape. After the parade, people gathered around the racetrack as two competitors released their cars at a time.

Rebecca Ross and Liam James stood on the side as zucchini car field medics, carrying toppled cars away on a stretcher.

Susan Miller is one of the organizers of the event. She’s been involved with the farmers market for over 20 years with her husband. She said the wet summer weather made it unclear if they would be able to hold Zucchini Fest in the first place.

“This year, we didn't know if we were going to do Zucchini Fest until I think like three weeks ago, because there weren't any zucchinis because it's been so wet,” Miller said, “but we pulled it off at the last minute.”

Lauren Jerew, director of the Homer Farmers Market, said that the annual event is one of many that were canceled for numerous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re hoping to bring more events back in future years.

“Every summer since COVID, the market has gotten a little bigger, more vendors, and we've stayed busy. And so it's really exciting to see that energy coming back,” Jerew said.

At the end of the races, every competitor was a winner and walked away with a gift certificate for the farmers market.

The Homer Farmers Market will continue to run until the end of September, with some vendors remaining until October 28.