We hugged, laughed, took photos and strolled around in perfect May weather. The Channel 9 reunion day at the Olney Farmers & Artists Market turned out as Mary Lou Donahue imagined it would.
"Nobody has to make a commitment. Everybody can drop in when they want. We didn't have to plan for anything, " said Donahue. "People can come and stay as long as they want or go around the market and see some things."
The retired editor came up with the reunion idea while having lunch with the market's founder and president, Janet Terry. More than a dozen people I know dropped by the WUSA-TV tent on May 20. It was good to see familiar faces, especially work friends I had not seen since retiring from my reporting job in 2009.
"We always have a good time. It's like family because we have been through thick and thin together," said Donahue.
News photographer and editor Kevin King snapped photos as morning news anchor Andrea Roane got a close look at the Bug Zoo. From there, we strolled over to visit two former Channel 9ers with booths.
Harold Hoiland has been displaying his fine art photographs since the Olney market opened in 2007. Artist Vera Elliot sells original oil paintings of people's pets.
"You get great deals and it's unique. It's nice to see local things here," said King, who has visited markets around the world.
Other former and current Channel 9 co-workers who attended the informal reunion Sunday include Joanne Carl, Judy Fiterman, Barry Goldstein, Mike Hydeck, Madeline LaCore, Larry Lewis, Celinda Peña, Karen Peterson, Shonelle Ricks-Calhoun, Robyn Small, Sandy Tucker and Lauren Werner.
The number of artists, farmers and vendors at the Olney market has increased significantly in recent years. King and his friend, Fairon Fitzhugh, tried out the Vietnamese spring rolls and chicken available at the new Dalat Deli vendor.
The mobile, wood-fired brick oven at Frankly...Pizza!, another new vendor, attracted other hungry colleagues. Frank Linn, a professionally trained chef makes his artisan-style pies from hand-rolled dough and fresh ingredients. His partner is pleased with the response from market customers.
"We heard great things about the Olney market, how busy it is, and how many neat, wonderful vendors there are. We just thought it would be a good fit for us," said Kate Diamond, co-owner of Frankly...Pizza!
Stephanie Wilson, a senior multimedia producer at WUSA-TV, found what she needed at the Shea Radiance, a vendor that sells shea butter skin and hair care products.
"It's been amazing. Everyone at this market has been really open to us because people want things that work," said Funlayo Alabi, co-owner of Shea Radiance.
She and her husband, Shola Alabi, manufacture the Shea Radiance line in Columbia, Maryland. They are recipients of the 2012 Top Minority Business Enterprise Mid-Atlantic Region award.
The Olney market is located at 2801 Olney Sandy Spring Road on the grounds of the Medstar Montgomery Medical Center Thrift Shop. Shoppers looking for fruits, vegetables or flowers can choose from a variety of new and returning vendors.
"We probably have 50 to 55 vendors," said Terry, the market founder who is also a producer and writer at the television station in the District. " We get some pretty renowned chefs and producer only farmers and a nice variety of ethnic food vendors."
Chef demonstrations take place at 11:00 a.m. each Sunday. There are also vendors specializing in meat, poultry and eggs from the farm.
Need a gift for a friend or relative? You might find the perfect present at Nahone Art Photography, Steven Howard Confections or at booths manned by one of a dozen new artists.
The Olney Farmers & Artists Market is open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays through November 4. A list of vendors is available on the market's website. Check out the Colesville Patch Directory for information on other farmers' markets.