Janesville Farmers Market expands into first downtown, indoor market

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, November 21, 2013

JANESVILLE—The Janesville Farmers Market will host its first indoor winter market Saturday, Dec. 7.

It will be one of two winter markets from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Olde Towne Mall, 20 S. Main, said Stephanie Aegerter, market manager.

The second market will be Saturday, Feb. 1.

“We're going to stick with the time people are used to coming to the farmers market,” she said.

 “We did the one at Basics last year in the Community Room. That went well. Unfortunately, the space was too small for both the number of vendors and the crowds we had.

"We would love to eventually have a year-round market like they do in Madison or even the once-a-month indoor market in Evansville,” Aegerter said.

Having the market downtown excites Aegerter.

“Being downtown was part of the initial impetus of starting this market. We wanted to promote and bring people downtown to see how many great businesses there are. I love Olde Towne Mall. It's so close to our regular market. The space is a little bigger (than Basics), and it'll be easy for people to find,” she said.

While the May-through-October farmers market has between 35 and 50 vendors every week, 14 vendors have registered so far for the December market, which has two dozen vendor spaces available.

 “There's a lot of interest,” Aegerter said.

As early as August, vendors began asking Aegerter if she was planning another winter market, she said.

So Aegerter recommended the indoor market to board members, who suggested adding the second market in February.

“We planned it so it doesn't conflict with the Evansville (farmers) market that is the third Saturday of every month,” she said.

The May-through-October farmers market features primarily food and farm vendors. The winter market will have more arts and crafts, Aegerter said.

Still, shoppers will find cheese, maple syrup, baked goods, meat, winter squash, onions, garlic and shallots, plus pickles and honey.

Shoppers will be able to use their Quest Electronic Benefit Transfer food assistance debit cards.

The winter market keeps the farmers market fresh in people's minds, Aegerter said.

“You stay in a little bit of a habit of going to a winter market. Then when the regular market rolls around, it doesn't seem like you have been so out of touch,” she said.

Aegerter believes the new market will improve attendance at the regular market right from the beginning of the season.

Customers at the winter market likely will be looking for something to do and will use the opportunity to do their holiday and Valentine's Day gift shopping, she said.

“You'll get that face-to-face contact with the farmer or with that craftsperson, and there's just something really special about that.”

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