New park gives farmers market room to growJune 10, 2019
By CANDY NEAL
HUNTINGBURG — A lot was going on at the Huntingburg Farmers Market Saturday morning.
A guitarist sang and played acoustic melodies as people strolled along the walkway under the market pavilion to look at produce and handmade crafts.
A group of ladies stood in a semi huddle, chatting about their purchases. A grandfather played Frisbee with his grandson near the park’s swings.
This is the kind of activity the organizers of the farmers market were hoping for.
“Just seeing this here, I love it,” said Sarah Flamion, one of the farmers market masters.
This is the first year the farmers market is being held at Market Street Park. And those involved say that the new site has its advantages over the former location, Memorial Gym’s parking lot.
“It’s more convenient,” said Sharla Hurst of Ferdinand. “Before, you brought your tent. Where we were before, you had to bring your tent, or else you’d be directly in the sun.”
She and her husband, Jeff, had homemade noodles and dumpling to sell, along with eggs. They appreciated having the ability to work out of the back of their car, as well as having the pavilion overhead.
“The pop-up tents can only shade so much,” Jeff said. “You’re usually still in the sun under the tent.”
The space underneath the pavilion includes a wide walkway with room for parked cars on either side. Vendors park in a space and place a table behind their vehicle, which leaves plenty of room for customers to walk in between.
And everyone under the pavilion stays covered. So rainy weather, of which there was a little Saturday morning, does not dampen the market.
Arlene Fleck of Duff has sold fruits and vegetables at the market since it started more than 20 years ago.
“This was where the original market was,” she said. At the time, Market Street was not a park; it was a street that looked more like a drive-through parking lot for Old Town Hall.
“We parked in the spaces there and people parked on the other side,” Fleck explained. “The market was to the south, and people would park on the north side and walk over.”
For at least the last 10 years, the farmers market has been held at the Memorial Gym parking lot.
Fleck said she likes the new space that has been created for the market.
Her only concern is the change in visibility. “I’m hoping that enough people know about it and come,” she said, “versus being out where there were two highways before.”
But she’s not too worried.
“As time goes, people will find out it’s here,” she said. “You may miss your occasional drive-by customers. But if they have enough signage, people will come by for the nice atmosphere.”
On Saturday, Fleck had potatoes, eggplants, peppers and cucumbers — and sold out quickly. In the coming weeks, as different fruits and vegetables become ready for harvesting, she will have a bigger variety of produce to sell at the market. “This is a little early for us,” she said.
Event organizers are looking to enhance the event. “The goal was that this was not to just have a place to get your tomatoes and your eggs. The goal was to make this an experience,” Flamion said. “So we’re incorporating the music and the artisans and the activities for the kids. It becomes a experience. You’re just hanging out. We want people to come down and sit enjoy the music and the swings and this beautiful park.
“It super exciting to me to see all that in action.”
The 20 spaces under the pavilion are sold-out with 16 vendors; four vendors are renting two spots. And there are new items this year: gluten-free baked goods, honey, cookies, bucket camping lights and micrograins. They join the vendors who regularly come to sell vegetables, fruits, handmade bags and jewelry, turkey tenders, homemade noodles, cards, soaps and other goodies. Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center is also on hand to conduct blood pressure checks.
“I think people see the excitement in it as well,” Flamion said, “and the potential for growth.”
More spaces are available in the park where vendors can bring their canopy and set up a space.
“We have the space for growth,” Flamion said. “We would love to see this place packed.”
Vendors can contact the Huntingburg Farmers Market through its Facebook page. They can also come to the park on the day of the market to sign up for a space.
The Huntingburg Farmers Market is held from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturdays, and will run through Oct. 19.
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