BRIGANTINE — Billy Mayer slung bag after bag of clams into the arms of happy customers Saturday afternoon at the Clam Daddy’s booth at the city’s farmers market.

“We call Memorial Day weekend the season opener,” Mayer, 24, said as he grabbed another bag from the cooler. “Everybody has been cooped up all winter, and this gives them something to do before they go to the beach. It’s a great thing for the community.”

The market is the only time the local, family business sells retail — they primarily sell wholesale to area restaurants — and customer after customer came forward to snag a bag.

More than 70 vendors lined the streets for the market, which kicked off its sixth season Saturday at Haneman Park at 15th Street and Revere Boulevard. Crafts, fresh seafood and produce were all available for purchase, while kids spun hoops and threw balls in the park’s grass and live music played from the gazebo.

Original sourcing and protecting the environment is important for the market, said volunteer Cathy Lavin. Only reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coolers are allowed, with straws and plastic bags totally banned.

“You have to make it, grow it, farm it or fish it,” said Lavin, 67, of Brigantine. “There are no resales here.”

Lavin said the market brings tourists and locals together on Saturday mornings Memorial Day through Labor Day.

“You come and you get to see everyone from the island,” Lavin said. “It’s nice to get the Brigantine locals with the summer residents. It brings us all together.”

Other highlights Saturday included a live cooking demonstration with Nicole Gaffney, a finalist on the 10th season of “Food Network Star” and owner of Soulberri, a coffee and smoothie spot on the island, and a book signing with John Gans, who recently published “White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War.”

Gans, 40, of Haddonfield, Camden County, said he’s been coming to the farmers market since it started.

“Brigantine has been a big part of my life, and it continues to be,” he said.

Anthony Masucci has been coming to the farmers market for as long as he can remember, but this year, he was able to bring his 1-year-old son, Bruno.

“Come for the crepes,” said Masucci, 33, of Philadelphia. ”Stay for the music and the charm of the volunteers — they’re the best people here.”

Contact: 609-272-7241 mbilinski@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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