Rock County Farmers Market enjoys impressive opening day
He laughed happily at his own joke.
In fact, probably nothing could have wiped the smile off Elrod’s face Sunday morning as he described the new Rock County Farmers Market’s inaugural morning.
“It’s doubled … tripled our expectations,” Elrod said. “This has been amazing.”
The market was spread across a gravel lot next to Nature’s Touch Garden Center, 5013 W. Highway 11. Elrod owns the garden center.
The Sunday market included 33 vendors. Some had been at the Janesville Farmers Market the previous morning—and many previous Saturdays.
The familiar smell of Elmer’s Kettle Corn greeted visitors. Sheila Killion sold her artistic cupcakes, and Sashay Acres offered eggs and produce under the same blue tent it sets up in downtown Janesville.
But the market had more craft booths than the Janesville Farmers Market typically does. Homemade egg rolls also were available. Along with soft drinks for sale for shoppers, Elrod had a large tote full of water on the ground for visiting dogs.
Some dog owners have complained that pets are not allowed at the Janesville market.
Garden center employees directed traffic in the busy gravel parking lot. The lot has 100 stalls, and it was more than full much of the morning, Elrod said.
Some shoppers parked up the road at Harpo’s West. Elrod joked that he needed a parking ramp like the one recently built in downtown Janesville.
Cars still were turning into the lot at noon Sunday, an hour before the market was to close. Ten vendors already had sold out and gone home, Elrod said. At least five had reported record sales, he said.
About 50 vendors took applications with them, and Elrod expects a bigger turnout next week.
Elrod decided to open a market when his application to sell at the Janesville Farmers Market was denied.
The Janesville market had started limiting new vendors to protect the sales of existing vendors, contrary to board policy. Killion made her appeal public, which lead to a series of stories in the Gazette about problems with the market.
While a diminished Janesville Farmers Market Board tries to regroup and move the market forward, some vendors have said the market is doing well this season.
Bill Erickson of Janesville was one of the happy vendors on Sunday at the Rock County Farmers Market. Erickson makes and sells leather crafts. This is his second year selling at the Beloit Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
With a new market in the area, Erickson will sell both days, he said.
“This is what Rock County needed,” he said.