Haverhill Farmers Market Celebrates 40 Years with a Move to Merrimack Street

The Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A permanent mural advertising the Haverhill Farmers Market will be painted on the upper level of the Goecke Parking Deck, just below the railing. The colorful sign will face Merrimack Street.

The Haverhill Farmers Market celebrates its 40th anniversary this year by moving to a prime location on Merrimack Street.

City councilors on Tuesday unanimously approved the market taking up residence in the front lot of the Goecke Parking Deck every Saturday from June 23 through Oct. 27.

An ordinance to restrict parking on market Saturdays from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. will be voted on in two weeks.

Jeff Grassie, a local artist and organizer of the market, told councilors the move will benefit the vendors, customers, and the city.

“Merrimack Street is a quiet place sometimes; this will bring more people down there,” Grassie said.

Last year, an average of 500 people visited the market each week, Grassie said. An influx of that number of people to Merrimack Street every Saturday can help invigorate that stretch of downtown, Grassie said, recalling last year’s Better Block Festival.

 “It was an amazing thing to see so many people show up downtown,” he said.

There will be plenty of room for all those visitors to park. The upper and lower levels of the parking deck will be available for parking, with 461 spaces. On-street parking will not be affected.

A path through the deck’s front lot will remain clear for vehicles to access parking in the lower level, and a sign will point the way to free parking, Grassie said.

A number of local organizations are lending support, including the Greater Haverhill Foundation, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, Creative Haverhill and Team Haverhill.

The chamber and foundation are covering the cost of red tents for each vendor to set up beneath. The tents will be weighted, so they won’t require any anchors to break into the asphalt of the parking lot, Grassie said.

Upgrades to the area will include additional trash barrels and recycling receptacles, as well as several electrical outlets that will eliminate the need for a generator to power entertainers’ amplifiers and vendors’ refrigeration units.

Wally and Stephanie Lesiczka, of Wally’s Vegetables, will relocate with the market as they have several times in its 40 year history. The Lesiczkas began selling produce when the Farmers Market began in 1978.

“Wally and I were the young farmers on the block,” Stephanie Lesiczka said.