Downtown Astoria’s rebirth has a number of origins. Restoration of the Liberty Theater, subsequent renovation of the Hotel Elliott, the closing of two disreputable bars and a subsequent explosion in restaurants and the reopening of the Commodore Hotel all have been instrumental.

The Astoria Sunday Market, which marked the opening of its 14th season Sunday, has changed shopping attitudes in a couple ways. Prior to its inaugural 2000 season, downtown Astoria was too quiet on Sundays. Now downtown comes alive. That has changed many downtown retailers’ attitudes.

Emergence of the farm-to-table movement coincided nicely with Astoria’s own revival. These community markets are about giving farmers and artisans direct contact with the buying public. Astoria’s market has led to more than one storefront start-up. The two most notable are the Blue Scorcher Bakery, which began selling baked goods at the market and the Himani Indian Restaurant that similarly got its start in the market’s food court.

Our region’s other public markets – in Cannon Beach and Ilwaco – are similarly successful. Ilwaco’s, which began in 2008, has brought new life to the waterfront. The Cannon Beach Farmers Market, entering its seventh year, has given that town a new dimension. Meanwhile, Astoria’s Sunday Market has generated a Thursday afternoon market, which is strictly about food products. On June 18, Seaside will launch a farmers market on the American Legion grounds.

All of this amounts to a wonderful synergy. Local food is good for us and good for our regional economy. The community markets build healthy downtowns.

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