Joey Lothian led a crowd through a countdown for a familiar festival’s races last Saturday at the Homer Farmers Market.
“Three, two, one, zucchini!” he chanted.
Competitors then dropped their racecars down a short track. The catch: all the cars needed zucchinis attached to them, which could be purchased in the market.
That’s how it goes at Homer Farmers Market’s Zucchini Fest, it’s all zucchinis all the time. This year marked Homer’s first Zucchini Fest since 2019, and it included not only races featuring the summer squash, but also a parade and the crowning of a “Zucchini Queenie.”
To prepare for the races, families gathered under tents to build their cars. They sorted through tubs filled with toy cars, ribbons, duct tape, rubber bands and figurines. Luce Raderman, one of more than 10 racers, took full advantage of the supplies.
“I have two trolls, a tiger, an entire roll of tape, two seashell necklaces, control panels in the car that I kind of want,” Raderman said.
After assembling their cars, the market held a parade where they crowned the Zucchini Queenie, the event’s version of a fair queen. Zuba Dorvell, the 2019 queen, led the parade around the market and crowned Jennifer Castellani as this year’s queen, donning her with a crown and cape. After the parade, people gathered around the racetrack as two competitors released their cars at a time.
Rebecca Ross and Liam James stood on the side as zucchini car field medics, carrying toppled cars away on a stretcher.
Susan Miller is one of the organizers of the event. She and her husband have been involved with the farmers market for over 20 years. She said the wet summer weather made it unclear if they would be able to hold Zucchini Fest in the first place.
“This year, we didn’t know if we were going to do Zucchini Fest until I think like three weeks ago, because there weren’t any zucchinis because it’s been so wet,” Miller said. “But we pulled it off at the last minute.”
Lauren Jerew, director of the Homer Farmers Market, said that the annual event is one of many that were canceled for numerous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re hoping to bring more events back in future years.
“Every summer since COVID, the market has gotten a little bigger, more vendors, and we’ve stayed busy,” said Jerew. “And so it’s really exciting to see that energy coming back.”
At the end of the races, every competitor was a winner and walked away with a gift certificate for the farmers market.
The Homer Farmers Market will continue to run until the end of September, with some vendors remaining until Oct. 28.