Great Eats, Great Reads and Great Tunes

Summer's still more than a month away according to the calendar. But the activity meter is heating up as four of the most popular attractions return to the new town square of Downtown this week. What's in store for Market Square during the warm weather months is a lineup of farm fresh foods, good books at bargain prices and free music throughout the work week. In other words, the Farmers Market rolls into town this Thursday, the Carnegie Library Reading Room opens a new chapter starting Tuesday and the Mellow Monday and Thursday Noontime concerts strike just the right chord.

By now, everyone knows that the Farmers Market plants its roots deep in the Square every Thursday during the spring, summer and fall. Now in its eighth season, the Farmers Market is a perennial favorite with Downtown residents, workers, shoppers and just about anyone else who happens to stroll through the Square on Thursdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Along with a bumper crop of returning favorites, the Farmers Market will expand from nearly a dozen vendors to 25 sellers of fruits, vegetables, organic meats, pastries, prepared foods, vegetarian pet treats, fresh-cut flowers, beeswax candles, Angora goat yarn and so much more that you'll want to visit every week just so you don't miss anything.

While you're picking a peck of perfect peppers or savoring a flaky Greek pastry, you can tap your toes to the sweet sounds of some of the City's best musicians during a free lunchtime concert that fills the Square each Thursday from Noon-2 p.m. with the blues, soul, bluegrass, rock and more from local talents such as Joy Ike, The Whiskey Holler and this week's first act, Maddie Georgi, an amazing balladeer who has belted out the National Anthem at Pirates and Steelers games. From tunes with a heavy back-beat to songs with an upbeat tempo, the Thursday Noontime Concerts will keep your toes tapping all summer long.

If you're looking for a real page turner, the Carnegie Library Reading Room continues a novel approach to reaching out to Market Square visitors who have an appetite for a good book during lunchtime. Back for a third season, the Reading Room welcomes readers of all ages to browse its ever-changing collection of fiction and non-fiction best-selling titles as well as books on topics ranging from gourmet cooking to automotive repairs. And you don't need a library card for this mobile branch of the Carnegie Library since all the books are for sale at the bargain prices of $2 per hardback and a buck for each paperback. While you'll be expanding your home library and base of knowledge, the proceeds will benefit the Downtown Carnegie location on Smithfield Street.

On the second Tuesday of each month, a staff librarian will be on hand to lead book discussions and help buyers select titles. For those caught up in the worldwide web, every third Tuesday will feature an update on what's new in technology at the Library. And throughout the season, which runs from this Tuesday through October 9, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., popular programs such as "30 Books in 30 Minutes," salon sessions and cookbook celebrations — complete with a cooking demonstration from a local chef — will be featured. But we have to warn you, the early bookworms at the Reading Room really get the best reads.
Okay, now let's get this party started right with the Mellow Monday concerts. Sponsored by the Market Square Merchants Association, this soothing acoustic music series helps take a bit of the manic out your Monday, starting today, with some smooth sounds from the likes of Brad Yoder, Maddie Arnold and this week's headliner, Nina Sainato. We like to think of the series, which runs every Monday from Noon-1 p.m. through October 29, as the perfect side dish to the fabulous lunchtime meals served by the great restaurants in and around the Square.

So forget about the calendar...summer in the Square is here. Come on out and join the fun.

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