WINTHROP — A rejuvenated version of the Winthrop Farmers Market opened under sunny skies on Thursday afternoon, after the market was closed all last season following a drop in participation over the previous years.

The farmers market last opened in the fall of 2016. At the time, fewer than five vendors were regularly coming to its then-location in the parking lot of the Winthrop town office, according to the market’s old Facebook page.

After a hiatus in 2017, the market reopened Thursday afternoon at a new location overlooking Maranacook Lake, with about 10 vendors from Winthrop and surrounding towns selling vegetables, flowers, jellies, maple syrup, body lotions, soaps and other goods from under the shade of tents.

“I’m delighted,” said Sandy Crites, a Winthrop woman who arrived shortly after the market opened at 3 p.m. and had just bought a thick bunch of asparagus. “I have been coming to the farmers’ market every year that they have it. I believe in supporting local farmers and craftspeople.”

“I’ve been wishing the farmers’ market would come back and it’s back!” said another resident, Virginia Baghdoyan, who was thinking about buying locally raised chicken. “I think this is a great place. There’s room to park. People can see it.”

The market is now located at the corner of Summer Street and Route 133, in an open parking lot that once was used by the Paris Farmers Union hardware store. The property now belongs to Alternative Manufacturing Inc., a maker of electronics parts that runs a small factory there and has not charged the market for the real estate.

More recently, the lot has also been serving as a de facto replacement for the town’s Main Street post office, which was destroyed by fire in early 2017. Temporary mobile units have been parked there to handle residents’ postal needs.

But the United States Postal Service is expected to rebuild the post office this year, which will free up more space for the farmers’ market, according to Ron DiGravio, who co-owns Cranberry Rock Farm in Winthrop and has been helping to organize the market with his business partner, Cindy Townsend.

“We’ve got vegetables, flowers, meat, eggs, baked goods, some prepared foods, honeys, maple syrup — all your standard farmers market things,” said DiGravio.

They also plan to add bread and dairy products into the mix, and hope other vendors will join the market over the summer. The market will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and run through the summer and early fall.

The Winthrop Farmers’ Market was originally started between 10 and 15 years ago, said Rita Moran, a member of the Town Council who used to run a book store on Main Street and helped get the market off the ground.

It previously operated at different locations around downtown, including the municipal parking lot on Main Street and near the town beach, according to Moran. As it relocated, the number of vendors dwindled.

DiGravio, whose farm is in Winthrop, did not participate in the town’s farmers’ market until this year, and he doesn’t know exactly why it didn’t open last year under its previous organizers.

But he thought it may have been out-of-the-way for some customers at its previous location, in the parking lot of the Winthrop Town Office.

He and Townsend have been involved with other farmers’ markets around the state, and they took charge of the hometown market this year partly at the request of the Winthrop Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We originally were going to try to get the market together at the last minute last year, but we thought it would be too last minute and couldn’t get enough interest,” he said. “We wanted to do it right and hopefully get enough interest to make it viable.”

The chamber also recruited students at Winthrop High School to produce a logo for the market. The result is an image of a cow’s brown-and-white face over multiple sprigs of lavender. The logo was designed by a sophomore, Gia Francis, and is now emblazoned on a sign posted at the intersection of Route 133 and Summer Street.

At least one of the farmers at the Winthrop market on Thursday, Scott Jillson, has participated in its previous incarnations. Jillson grows vegetables and flowers and produces syrup at a family business, Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse, which opened about 50 years ago in Sabattus.

While the Winthrop market is no longer in the immediate vicinity of downtown, he said that he was encouraged by the ample parking and the fact that there are more vendors signed up this year than in 2016.

“It always works better when there are more farmers,” he said. “There’s more choice, and they’re more fun to come to.”

Barbara Walsh, the executive director of the Winthrop Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, offered another pitch for the new site.

“How many farmers’ markets have a lake view?” she wondered.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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