The first shipment of milk produced in neighboring Warren County by a small dairy with its own bottling plant has arrived at Meadville’s Market House.

Pot O’ Gold Dairy of Bear Lake has a great reputation — especially for its chocolate milk, Market Master Alice Sjolander said, flashing the smile of a true chocolate lover. “It’s not organic milk, but it has no bovine growth hormone it it. For people worried about hormones and antibiotics, it’s just really great milk.”

Pot O’ Gold’s whole, 2-percent and chocolate milk is available in half-gallons, quarts and pints. Selection is slightly limited this week, but by next week, they’ll have the whole line, Sjolander said. While Pot O’ Gold Dairy markets both pasteurized and raw milk, all the milk for sale at the Market House is pasteurized, she added.

The old-fashioned bottles require a deposit — $1 for each quart and $2 for each half-gallon. However, the deposit wasn’t slowing anyone down.

“As soon as people saw those glass bottles today, they were snapping it off the shelves,” she said as Thursday’s business day wound toward 6 p.m., the Market House’s new weekday closing hour.

Milk isn’t the only new arrival at the Market House, Sjolander was quick to point out. For example, area residents now have a choice. They can go online and pay $12 to $13 for 6 ounces of Capriole Inc.’s award-winning Chevre O’Banon, a pasteurized goat-milk wonder that Steve Jenkins popularized in “The Cheese Primer” by describing it as “much, much better than any I’ve tasted in France.” Or they can shop at the Market House and pay $8.66 for exactly the same 6-ounce, vacuum-packed cheese.

While Sjolander is devoted to bringing the best regional artisan cheeses to the Market House, she confessed that she just had to make an exception for O’Banon. It’s imported — all the way from Indiana. In fact, although this type of cheese is known simply as “banon” in France, the Capriole Inc. version is named in honor of Indiana’s late Gov. Frank O’Bannon.

Each round is wrapped in chestnut leaves soaked in bourbon. “The tannins in the leaves and the bourbon combine to give this creamy, dense cheese just a nuance of a kick,” according to its makers.

In addition, the bakery is now making pizza, the room has been slightly re-arranged to provide a performance space, and musicians are being lined up for regular performances.

Saluting April Fool’s Day, Meadville’s favorite Squeeze the Clown and all kinds of foolish foods will be center stage on Saturday. Decorate-it-yourself “pizzas” (no one’s saying what they really are) are just one item on the agenda, as vendors give their imaginations a real workout. “It’s a great Market House family,” Sjolander said. “Everybody works together and helps each other — and they all promote each others’ products.”

A new line of Made-in-Meadville gourmet dog biscuits is also flying off the shelves. In fact, once the weather warms up a bit, a special outdoor “Doggie Café” is planned. “Dogs will have their day,” Sjolander said.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

Changes are already well under way at downtown Meadville’s historic Market House, but even bigger changes may soon be in store.

Preliminary results of an analysis by market consultant David O’Neil will be explored during an April 21 public information meeting at 7 p.m. on the first floor of the 910 Market St. landmark.

The meeting will be hosted by French Creek Project, which signed a three-year agreement to manage the Market House in June 2005. In addition to his analysis of the current status of the facility, O’Neil will describe opportunities for reviving and successfully operating it in the future. He will also be available for questions and community feedback following the presentation.

Refreshments featuring foods offered for sale daily at the Market House will be served.

An international market consultant and expert in the management and development of public markets and rebuilding local economies, O’Neil is the former general manager of the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. While at Reading Terminal, where he directed the overall market revitalization for 10 years, he returned the facility to full occupancy and profitability after decades of neglect, losses and near abandonment.

O’Neil has been hired by French Creek Project to perform a critical analysis of the Market House, including examining existing conditions; estimating demand for the market; interviewing current and potential customers; developing a conceptual layout and merchandise mix for the building and site; recommending capital improvements; and recommending a phased implementation strategy.

“We’re looking forward to David O’Neil being here,” Market Master Alice Sjolander said Thursday. “He’s not only going to give a great overview of what they’ve done so far, but what’s been done at other markets. How their structure goes as far as who does what, who collects money from whom, and other ways the other markets have been able to become sustainable.

“Other markets have the luxury of having apartments as part of their complex,” she continued. “Other markets have parking garages that they get to keep the fees from, so that helps with the sustainability. “The way things have gone so far — and with the team we have here, the way we know things will go in the future — we know we will become sustainable without those things.”

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

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