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May 1, 2013

Farmers Market returns for 20th season, but at new site

Popular gathering moves south to municipal lot for first two months of 2013 season

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

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Farmers Market returns for 20th season, but at new site
Neil Smith of The Garden Gate Farm in Snover, Mich., holds son Aaron Smith, then 9 months, while talking to customers during a past trip to the Farmington Farmers Market. His family sold organic baked goods, naturally raised pork and poultry, flowers and free-range eggs.

FARMINGTON — The 20th season of the Farmington Farmers Market is slated to begin this weekend, but not at the Sundquist Pavilion, which it has called home for the past eight years.

Due to construction on Groves Street, the farmers market will relocate into a pair of municipal lots on Orchard Street, just a block or two south of the pavilion, for the May and June markets. The market meets 9 a.m.-2 p.m. every Saturday, starting May 4.

The Farmington Farmers Market started in 1993, and Market Manager Walt Gajewski joined during the 1998 visioning process. Before moving into the pavilion in 2005, one proposed location for the farmers market was the lot where it will spend the next two months.

“Ironically, we’ve come full circle, in one regard,” Gajewski said. “We’ve done a lot of work to scale out the new site. On paper, it looks like we’ll be able to host the same or more vendors as last year.”

Gajewski said the market averaged nearly 3,500 people per week last year, breaking the 4,000-person mark five times, compared to just once in 2011. The peak attendance was 4,286 on a single day last year.

“The new site will accommodate approximately 50 spaces, which will include community spaces,” Gajewski said. “The market really embraces community in a big way. It has a strong community base.

“Moving the market is going to be a new experience for all involved. There’s no dry run; we’re just going to pick up and move the market. It’s going to be a challenge, and there’s going to be some bugs to work out and tweaks to make.”

Farmington Downtown Development Authority Events Coordinator Kristin Curle said the market should move back to the pavilion by July, which is when more vendors’ products are harvested and ready for sale.

“We only anticipate being in our relocation until the end of June,” Curle said. “We don’t normally have as many vendors as we have in the high point of the season in the summer.”

Two aspects of the market that are sure to add appeal are a loading zone and the returning Little Sprouts kids activities zone.

“We’re bringing back our Little Sprouts corner,” Curle said. “Every Saturday, there will be a different group there doing an art project or special activity while mom and dad shop.”

Little Sprouts will be based near a music tent, offering a relaxing area for the all-day shoppers.

“It’s great for the stroller moms, or the new grandmas can come and relax, that’s also close to the music,” Gajewski said.

As for the loading zone, it will allow attendees to carry their purchases a shorter distance, although parking will be in the lot adjacent to the market.

“We’ve carved out a niche at the new location that’ll serve as a customer pick-up zone right at the front of the market,” Gajewski said. “Volunteers will be there to look after their purchase and help load their vehicles.”

As for the tradition of a themed first market of the season, this year’s will be the Kentucky Derby.

Attendees are encouraged to wear large, flamboyant hats for a hat contest; there will be a plastic horseshoe-throwing station for children; Miss Farmington Elena Pavlicas and her court of 2013 candidates will be in attendance; and 2013 Miss Farmington candidate Grace Newlin is scheduled to sing the national anthem and may also sing “My Old Kentucky Home.”

For more information on the Farmington Farmers Market, as well as maps, visit www.downtownfarmington.org/Downtown.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.