Farmers market vendors learn about 2014 plans


Leader Photo by Tim Ryan Shawano Farmers Market Board member Bob Dumke shows a site plan for the farmers market’s new location at Franklin Park to vendors who attended an organizational meeting Tuesday at Angie’s Main Cafe, 132 S. Main St.

The new nonprofit group that will operate the Shawano Farmers Market starting this year met with vendors Tuesday to talk about the market’s move to a new location.

“Our vision for this site was to have a market in a city marketplace on a square where there’s more green present. That was really our goal in setting this up,” said Richard Sarnwick, president of the Shawano Farmers Market Board.

The market will move from the City Hall parking lot to Franklin Park, the grounds of the old Franklin Middle School at the corner of Division and Washington streets.

Vendor booths will be located along the eastern edge of the park, facing Washington Street, which will be blocked off to traffic at both ends.

Board member Bob Dumke said there is space for at least 50 vendors along Washington Street.

As with the old location, there will be a music tent, information tent and a spot for nonprofit vendors.

“We’re still ironing out some of the details,” Dumke said. “I feel comfortable we can manage the site better than ever, with reduced traffic and congestion.”

Electricity will be available to vendors that require it, with Shawano Municipal Utilities installing a meter that the market will have to pay for.

Vendors will make use of the Civic Center parking lot across the street and will have access to the center’s restrooms.

Dumke said locating at Franklin Park would further a long-range vision of the farmers market that would mesh with the city’s eventual development of the park site.

“As the city develops this into a park — hopefully a residential, neighborhood type park — they will include in their planning the use of the site as a farmers market and hopefully establish more permanent facilities,” Dumke said.

Sarnwick noted those permanent facilities could include such things as storage and restrooms.

“We’re hoping when the city sees how fantastic this is going to be, that they’re going to start to participate more,” Sarnwick said.

The farmers market, which operates Saturday mornings starting June 21 this year through October, was run through the Business Improvement District since it began in 2008, though most of the members of the new board were the original proponents of the event.

Treasurer Jennifer Langlois said it costs about $8,000 to $9,000 to run the market, with two-thirds of that money coming from vendor fees and the rest from donations.

Being a nonprofit will now allow the farmers market to also go after grant money.

An added expense this year, estimated at close to $1,000, will be insurance.

“This year, a big chunk is going to private insurance since we don’t fall under the city anymore,” Langlois said.

Vendors at Tuesday’s meeting had a few logistical questions, but there were no reservations expressed about the new location.

About 30 people attended the meeting in the back room at Angie’s Main Cafe, 132 S. Main St.

Vendors did have some concerns about ongoing issues not related to the new site, including some vendors who pack up and leave early, which they said discourages visitors who think the market is closing for the day.

Sarnwick said there is nothing the board can do to keep them from packing up, but they won’t be able to leave early at the new location. For safety reasons, they won’t be allowed to bring their vehicles out of the parking lot onto Washington Street until the market closes at noon.

Vendors also wanted to ensure that the produce being sold at the market is being grown locally, which, Sarnwick said, was why the certified local vendor program was being reinstated.

“In many farmers markets across Wisconsin and across the nation, there are some vendors who will come in and buy potatoes at Walmart and package them up and say they’re selling them as freshly grown potatoes and they’ll use the market under that guise and they’ll mark the price up,” he said.

Sarnwick said none of the vendors present was doing that, but starting this year volunteers would go to local farms to certify they are producing the product they’re selling.

The certifications are not mandatory, and vendors can still be part of the market without the certification. Those that are certified get a banner to place on their booths.

“Our vendors like the program because they get credit for all the hard work they do in developing their product,” Sarnwick said.