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Strings of lights hanging from the ceiling paired with folksy ambient music made for a festive vibe at the Holiday Harvest Farmers Market inside the Park Centers Banquet Hall on Sunday morning.

Vendors touted, among a plethora of other things, kolaches, kohlrabi and kwark, a Dutch goat yogurt cheese, to customers seeking a climate-controlled respite from the weekend's winter storm.

After welcoming over 1,800 people for the first of three winter markets on Nov. 18, event organizers said the weather dropped numbers slightly but, all things considered, still allowed for a good turnout.

Alex McKiernan, the owner of Robinette Farms, recalls the middle market usually having the lowest turnout but not drastically affecting business.

The Robinette stand offers a variety of cold season-greens and roots grown in "hoop houses" — structures similar to greenhouses, but with open floors allowing for planting directly into the ground.

"Inside the hoop house it doesn't really freeze, so they grow great," McKiernan said. "This is often the best time of year for some of our greens and salad mix. It's perfect because they don't like heat. The best things we grow this year are our greens, they're just perfect, beautiful, crisp and sweet."

Across the room from the Robinette booth, Charuth Van Beuzekom-Loth offered her selection of goat cheeses to passing shoppers, including her Rosa Maria cheese that took first place in the aged goat milk farmstead category at the American Cheese Society's national competition in Pittsburgh in July.

Van Beuzekom's Dutch Girl Creamery, which operates in conjunction with ShadowBrook Farm, is home to more than 200 goats that she uses for her cheeses. She calls the work "a labor of love" and says days like Sunday are rewarding.

"It makes me happy knowing that people will be enjoying my cheese with their families, especially when they put it on their holiday platters and make a big deal about it," she said.

Along with the cheeses, ShadowBrook also offered a range of produce, with its carrots specifically attracting Lincoln resident Margaret Vrana to the market.

A longtime gardener who grew up on a farm, Vrana loves the market and everything that comes with it.

"It's like being in a candy shop," she said. "Only much better because I know what candy does to my body."

Toting her own bags, Vrana identified herself as "one of those radical take-care-of-the-Earthers." She recently moved back to Lincoln after a nine year stint in southeastern Colorado and was excited to have crossed paths with many old friends at Sunday's market.

"Check it out, it's such a smorgasbord of wonderful foods grown or made by your neighbors," she said.

The last of the three holiday markets will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the banquet hall at 2608 Park Blvd.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or wstone@journalstar.com.

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Newsroom intern

Newsroom intern at the Journal Star.

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