La Jolla Open Aire Market celebrates 9th anniversary

On Sunday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the La Jolla Open Aire Market will celebrate its 9th anniversary.

Pumpkin decorating, face painting, a cake walk, and a balloon artist will all be featured at the event. Music from the rock and roll group, The Corvelles, will entertain visitors, along with entertainment from DJ Ron Jones, who has been the entertainment director of the market since it began. “It is the best market in the county, for quality, variety, produce, crafts, the art is first capita,” Jones said.

What started nine years ago with 14 vendors has grown to the largest Farmer’s Market in San Diego. More than 75 artisans, a multitude of farmers and a food court are available at the market.

Sherry Ahern, who founded the Open Aire Market to raise money for La Jolla Elementary School, said, “I wanted to come up with something that the community could embrace that could be a weekly event. I had always wanted a weekly farmers market in La Jolla.

“What’s making my heart feel so good is that we have put a lot of people into business there. We are making money, helping kids at La Jolla Elementary School, vendors are making a living, and the community loves it,” Ahern said.

Melinda Riveras, from Harry’s Coffee Shop, affirmed the impact Ahern has had on the business community, calling Ahern “her angel.” “She got me here, had faith in me,” Riveras said.

Rivera’s booth, Melinda’s Cocina, sells delicious Mexican salsas, tamales, burritos and tacos.

Kevin and Gail Foster said they make sure to find Melinda’s Mexican food every time they visit from Denver, Colo. “We always visited her at Harry’s Coffee shop. Then we found out she was here,” Gail Foster said.

Another success story is Anthony Koolan, who has been selling crepes at the Open Aire Market for five years. Two years ago, he opened his first crepe restaurant on Pearl street, and his second crepe restaurant recently opened in La Jolla Shores.

Other foods available in the food court include smoothies, kettle korn and kebabs.

Ahern was the first person to bring artisans to any farmer’s market. The Open Aire Market now includes everything from French table linens to teak furniture, jewelry, clothing, toys and cosmetics.

Doug Jeffrey, owner of Savvy, has been driving from Scottsdale, Ariz. every weekend to sell his crystal jewelry at the Market for the last four years. “It’s my prime show,” he said. While his booth shows off beautifully crafted crystal pieces, he can also make custom pieces for a certain outfit. “Women have brought dresses to the market for me to make jewelry for,” Jeffrey said.

A variety of healthy, fresh produce, including eggs, pasta, breads, pies, salsa, fruit and vegetables, is also available at the farmers market, from Certified Farmer’s Market Vendors, along with an extensive array of flowers.

From Jesus Valdavia, who began selling gourmet vegetables from his 100-acre farm at the market nine years ago, to Leanne Warner, who just started selling her reusable grocery bags at the Market two weeks ago, the market is having a positive impact on the business community.

But it has also worked wonders on La Jolla Elementary School.

It took two full years of work with Friends of La Jolla Elementary, Inc. foundation for Ahern to start the Farmer’s Market. Friends of La Jolla Elementary, Inc. foundation was started in 1976 because of hindering fund-raising restrictions on the PTA.

The money raised from the La Jolla Open Aire Market for Friends of La Jolla Elementary, Inc. has funded health assistants, libraries, librarians, books, school nurses, P.E., music, art, science, and technology such as laptops and cameras that San Diego City Schools no longer funds. “The best part is, it’s a community event. So it doesn’t even tap the parents,” said Donna S. Tripi, La Jolla Elementary’s principal.

La Jolla’s Open Aire Market is located at La Jolla Elementary School’s upper playground, on the corner of Girard and Genter. For more information visit the Web site at