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Evansville Farmers Market looks to expand

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GINA R. HEINE
February 22, 2011
— Organizers of the Evansville Farmers Market are excited to expand the event to Saturday mornings with twice as many vendors.

"We're really hoping to make this a community event, drawing people from all kinds of interests," said Marie Messinger, community outreach coordinator.


The market started last year by pairing with city events such as the Harvest Windmill Festival and on a few Tuesday nights at the corner of Main and Union streets, said Renee Frank, co-manager of the market with Josh Wiser.


This year, organizers plan to hold the market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. They hope to locate downtown on one block of Church Street next to the new Creekside Place Community Center. A city committee March 2 will consider a request to close the block for the market, Messinger said.


Organizers would like to have musicians, entertainers and crafters as well as food vendors, Frank said.


"We want to try to really focus on local, so hopefully within a 100-mile radius," she said. "We want to make it a family experience, so we're hoping this coming summer to have a child-oriented event at least once a month."


Despite Saturday-morning markets already in Janesville, Beloit and Madison, Frank said they haven't had problems finding vendors.


The market brought six to seven regular vendors last year, she said.


"We're hoping to hit the ground with double that every week," she said.


The city's last farmers market ended about five years ago, she said. It was not well marketed or used, she said.


The market was reestablished for a number of reasons, including the troubles the Janesville Farmers Market faced last year, Frank said.


Evansville is a beautiful small town and a market fits the look of downtown, she said.


"We're easy to get to, easy to get out of," she said. "We think that it really has a chance. Plus, we have a lot of local farmers, a lot of local vendors. That makes a nice fit."


Frank lives outside of Oregon and sells products from her R&B Acres farm at the market. Messinger also is a vendor, selling flowers and herbs from her family's farmette.


People will be able to order products ahead of each week's market from some vendors, including R&B Acres, online at localdirt.com, Frank said.


A market committee of about 10 people has been meeting monthly, and a Friends of the Evansville Farmers Market also is active. Organizers just held a logo contest, and Joshua Schneider's design was chosen.


IF YOU GO

An organizational meeting for vendors interested in joining the Evansville Farmers Market will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at the United Methodist Church, 21 S. Madison St., Evansville.


Market organizers also have two upcoming events:


-- A fundraiser at the FFA and Alumni Farm Toy Show from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at the Evansville Fieldhouse, 320 Fair St. The market is collecting donated cookbooks and kitchen gadgets to sell. They also will be selling jelly.


-- A book discussion of "Gardening with Heirloom Seeds" and a seed swap from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at the Eager Free Public Library, 39 W. Main St.


For more information, contact community outreach coordinator Marie Messinger at (608) 882-9032 or sweetfieldfarm@hotmail.com. Co-manager Renee Frank also is writing about the market on her blog at storiesfrominkoze.blogspot.com.

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