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Flea Market gears up for return
The Ceres Flea Market expects to re-open operations soon, ending a three-year hiatus of a popular tradition for bargain hunters and sellers alike.

Diego Castillo of Ceres Flea Market Group (CFMG) Investment LLC of Modesto said his group had hopes of opening this Saturday under a temporary permit while new restrooms and a concession building are being constructed. However, as of press deadline the city was unable to confirm if the necessary permits were in place.

The flea market will be unable to sell produce and have food vendors until those buildings are completed in four to six weeks.

The city of Ceres is expected to issue building permits for a 1,900-square-foot concession building and two restroom buildings sized at 1,200 and 700 square feet.

In April the Ceres Planning Commission approved a set of conditions for the return for the weekend open-air market at the defunct 25-acre Ceres Drive-In property on Whitmore Avenue west of Highway 99.

The flea market is proposed to draw as many as 500 vendors, operating year round on Fridays between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Live music will be scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends with a beer and wine garden operating on Sundays only.

Vendors will be charged one dollar per day for a business license fee but must have seller's permit from the state and reporting sales tax. Sellers will be charged a fee for space, too.

There will be no charge for the public to park nor enter the market, said Castillo.

Castillo is a managing member of the Ceres Flea Market Group. He said he and other investors who enjoyed the flea market while growing up wanted to see it return.

"We have good memories there," said Castillo.

Work has been undertaken to clean up and patch up the black top, as well as stripe the parking lot and paint buildings.

"It's going to be a pretty clean operation," he said.

The flea market will hire three to six private security personnel and will have to pay for any costs of security provided by Ceres Police.

"Public safety is our number one priority," said Castillo.

The flea market will eventually include a farmer's market organized through the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children. The market was formerly held in Whitmore Park but later abandoned because the location failed to draw enough business to satisfy vendors.

Car shows and an area featuring dealer cars will be offered.