Like a maître d' at a fine restaurant, Mario Gutierrez bounced back and forth between customers, making sure each one was being served properly.
"It's all about customer service and building relationships; that's my philosophy," said Gutierrez, 43, as he tended his snack and produce booth during the last day of the Hesperia Civic Market & Street Faire for the season Wednesday afternoon.
Gutierrez formed his business in 2009, just as the city, and the recreation and park district, joined forces to form the event.
"I started my business because I wanted to be a part of this community," Gutierrez said. "When all the people and vendors get together, it's like a big family."
But with a only handful of early afternoon visitors, and approximately 20 vendors, much of the farmers market family that was present in May now were missing.
"This happens every year at this time," Recreation Supervisor Brandon McAnulty said. "Most Wednesdays, we usually have a good crowd with 50 to 60 vendors; then school starts and lots of people and vendors just don't come out."
Since 2009, the number of visitors and vendors has fluctuated; mostly due to scheduling changes, vendor guidelines and the weather, McAnulty said.
"We've had several scorching days, with temperatures way over 100 degrees," McAnulty said. "Once it started getting hot people just stopped coming out."
McAnulty and his team will be reviewing vendor evaluations as they prepare for next year's market.
Becky Ortiz, a first time visitor to the market, said she stumbled across the event after seeing the line of parked cars and tents.
"This is so relaxing and a great place to come with the family," said Ortiz, as she watched her young son, Jakob, dip his feet in the fountain. "I wish they would keep this going for a few more months."
Like Ortiz, many market visitors were first-timers who had never heard of the event.
"I've been here for some 30 years, and I never knew they did this," said Joseph Clemons of Hesperia, as he walked his dog. "Why don't they have anything on the radio, or a sign waver like Peaches?"
As she tended to her kettle corn and funnel cakes, Jo Will said efforts by the park department and city to improve the market have been wonderful.
"Brandon is such a great guy and all the vendors just love him," Will said. "I try to help him with the Spanish speaking vendors as much as I can."
As the sun began to set behind the new theater, and temperatures dropped, groups of families, teenagers, seniors and an army of leashed dogs began to fill the park.
"The people always come out and play when it gets cooler," said Scott Bell, the market's disc jockey. "Sometimes we do karaoke, and sometimes people come up and start dancing."
Krysta Holland, a teacher with Mirus Secondary School, said she'll be counting the days until the start of the new market season.
"Our booth is here on the last day because we've been off all summer," said Holland, as she poured ketchup on her hot dog. "There really is a sense of community here and I'd love to come back next year."
Information on the farmers market can be found online at www.HesperiaParks.com or by calling (760) 244-5488.
Rene De La Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.