Ocoee to host first community market

The city of Ocoee is partnering with Orange Blossom Market Co. and Cluckerz Chicken to host monthly community markets. The first takes place Thursday, Feb. 1.

Chriz Manzano, owner of Cluckerz Chicken, is excited to host the first community market with the city of Ocoee and Orange Blossom Market Co. at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center.
Chriz Manzano, owner of Cluckerz Chicken, is excited to host the first community market with the city of Ocoee and Orange Blossom Market Co. at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center.
Photo by Annabelle Sikes
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The city of Ocoee, Orange Blossom Market Co. and Cluckerz Chicken are coming together to host the first Ocoee Community Market.

The market will be held the first Thursday of every month at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center and Bill Breeze Park. The first market will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1.

The free market will showcase dozens of local vendors with handcrafted goods, unique products and artisan snacks. 

At the family friendly event, attendees also will be able to enjoy an array of food trucks offering tasty treats, live music performances by local artists, face painting, inflatable games and more.

The goal of the market is to encourage residents to shop and eat locally to support small businesses in their community.


When Chris Manzano, Ocoee-area resident and owner of Cluckerz Chicken, opened his food truck last year, he did so with the intent of making a positive impact on the surrounding community.

Although known for its crispy chicken tenders, Cluckerz takes pride in not just its food but also its ability to help those who need it the most.

Manzano had been thinking of starting a food truck and movie night, and he decided to reach out to former Ocoee community member Dave Tran, who started the Lunar New Year celebration in Ocoee, to ask for advice.

Tran helped Manzano set up some meetings with the city before Manzano realized he would need additional help.

“I realized I knew a lot about restaurants and the food truck scene, but I knew nothing about dealing with city matters and markets,” he said. “I immediately thought of Sheena Willis from Orange Blossom Market Co.”

Manzano met Willis at one of her networking meetings for small businesses called Oakland Networking at Nine.

“We really hit it off when we first met, and I decided to try and reach out and contact her to see if she would be interested in helping me,” he said. “I remember her mentioning to me that she had an interest in doing a farmers market in the city for a long time, so I thought this might be a great opportunity to combine our visions. I asked her if she would be interested in partnering and taking over, and then, in return, she would be the head of everything. I would gain the experience of learning from her, so that eventually I can grow the food truck events. I look at her kind of like an inspiration.”


Through Orange Blossom Market Co., Willis has helped organize several local farmers markets, including the one in the town of Oakland.

“Chris had been able to join a few of those networking meetings since September, and we also got to know each other and (our) work styles through events I host in other towns,” she said. “Chris had set up a meeting with the city to brainstorm ways to connect locals with local businesses and invited me to join. We spent some time researching and creating a proposal to present to the city together.”

Manzano and Willis approached the city’s Parks and Recreation Department in September.

“After researching markets around Central Florida, Sheena and Orange Blossom Marker Co. were linked to several of the successful markets,” Ocoee Recreation Operations Manager Toren Hogan said. “Chris is an Ocoee resident, and we have used his Cluckerz Chicken food truck at a few of the city's events. The Parks and Recreation Department is always looking to expand the programs and services offered to the community.”

Hogan said the city held a farmers market a few years ago, but with construction projects in downtown Ocoee, the market was suspended and never reestablished. 

“Also, residents and the community saw a need for a market,” Hogan said. “We received several calls the past 12 months and social media feedback about a need for a market in Ocoee. The city feels like the market fulfills a community need and will be a vibrant hub to bring people together. The city also thinks the market is a good idea because it supports local vendors, encourages people to visit the great businesses in downtown Ocoee and provides different family friendly event options.”

Willis said the city has provided the managing partners an opportunity to be part of something special.

“Ocoee is a hometown — even if you recently moved there,” she said. “The people are welcoming, and it’s an environment I want to work in. I love collaborating as a team. Parks and Recreation was very open to our ideas, and Joy Wright, with services support, has also been a great help.”

Hogan hopes the market will provide a place that brings the community together. 

“I also hope the community market enhances social connection, while providing opportunities to shop and eat locally, establish connections to vendors and downtown businesses, and, in general, serve as a tool for community development,” Hogan said. “One of the goals for the Parks and Recreation Department is to provide a variety of events and community services that facilitate community engagement and enhance residents’ quality of life. The community market is a prime example of this.”


Vendors for the event will be set up inside the Ocoee Lakeshore Center, as well as outside on the lawn of Bill Breeze Park. 

Millcookies, Captain Crazy’s Nuts and Fine Snacks, and Soulshine in a Jar are just a few of the names attendees may recognize at the event. 

Cluckerz Chicken will lead the food truck scene, accompanied by others such as GringaMex, Twisted Plates, Hot Dog Therapy and Tagliolino Fresh Pasta. 

Locals also will be able to capture the moment with a photo booth by Now It’s A Party LLC and enjoy inflatables games for the children courtesy of Twisted Outdoor Events. Francesca Tarantino, local 15-year-old singer, will perform. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the beginning of the event. 

“I hope to create an environment that gives our guests something to look forward to each month and (have) our vendors feel supported,” Willis said. 

Manzano wants to grow the market to host about 30 to 40 vendors, as well as feature a mix of both popular and up-and-coming food trucks, and expand to encompass the downtown Ocoee area. 

His goal is to create an event that combines the Winter Garden Farmers Market and the Windermere Food Truck Night.

If the market goes well, he hopes to host the event more frequently than once a month. 

As far as other goals, Manzano plans to find a way to incorporate local nonprofits to help raise money, as well as help mentor small businesses just starting off. He has considered the possibility of even starting a podcast where he would interview local food truck owners and share their stories. 

“The city had a farmers market-type event before, but it kind of died out,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to bring produce vendors out. We may decide to bring in more of a farmers market offering in the future, but first we need our project to prove itself so that the city can feel good about investing more into the market. The city is growing, and we want to help the downtown businesses in Ocoee grow with the community. I want this to grow into something that’s really well known in Ocoee to keep the money in this area, and also continue to find a way to give back and support our community."

Interested in becoming a vendor? Send an email to Sheena Willis, Orange Blossom Market Co., at [email protected].



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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