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Janesville City Council questions limit at farmers market

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
May 11, 2010
— Several Janesville City Council members said Monday they were disturbed to read in a Janesville Gazette article Saturday that the city farmers market board is turning away vendors.

Sheila Killion, who owns Cakes by Sheila, questioned a board policy that allows the market manager to set quotas so the market can maintain a mix of products. She was turned away two years in a row.


Some interviewed in the article said the market must be managed to avoid having too much of one product and hurting current vendors’ sales.


Others, though, said the board should let the market decide and that crowds would grow as the number of vendors does. The market is for vendor-produced items only, and board policy limits crafters to a quarter of the booths. Written board policy, however, does not appear to limit approved farm products.


Baked goods are an approved farm product.


“I think that economically, the market will police itself or will regulate itself if we simply open it up and allow vendors that want to come in and pay the fee to come in and sell their merchandise,” Councilman George Brunner said. “I simply think that limiting the number of vendors also limits what (the market can raise) … No wonder they have to come to us and request waiver of the fees for their permits when they’re limiting the revenue they make.


“I would hope the people (running) the farmers market would hear what I’m saying,” Brunner said.


Councilman Frank Perrotto suggested writing a letter to the market board, saying he would not have voted to waive the $2,000 in permit fees if he had known vendors were being limited.


But council President Kathy Voskuil suggested bringing farmers market representatives before the council to talk to them directly rather than relying on information in a news article.



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