Farmers Market wraps up third season

“I just love coming to the Shawano Farmers Market” is a comment heard repeatedly on Saturday mornings from June to October in the Shawano City Hall parking lot.

Having just completed its third successful season, the Shawano Farmers Market has become an opportunity for local vendors to display and market their wares and for Shawano residents and visitors to interact and enjoy locally grown products.

Dr. Richard Sarnwick and Len Pubanz of Shawano were among several people who were the driving forces behind getting the market started three years ago. The first year, 10 to15 vendors were on hand most Saturdays. That number nearly tripled this year, with vegetables, fruit, flowers, beef and fresh fish among the products offered.

“The reason we wanted to start a Farmers Market in Shawano is because we wanted Shawano residents to have the opportunity to buy local produce and thus keep the money circulating in our community,” Pubanz said. Pubanz said this is the main reason why the market has been so successful.

The market, mainly organized and run by volunteers, has a five-person board of directors. Earlier this year, they saw a need for a Market Director and hired Jen Langlois.

Langlois served as a market manager on occasion the first two years., but when the opportunity arose to become more active, she applied for the director position.

“I’m just amazed at how the market has blossomed,” Langlois said. “I just couldn’t ask for more.”

Langlois also said the market couldn’t operate without its many volunteers. “They do a lot and we ask so much of them,” she said. “I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped make the market a reality for the Shawano community.”

Members of the market board are Sarnwick, Bob Dumke, Marlene Brath, Peggy Linzmeier and Mary Zimanek. Len Pubanz heads up the large group of volunteers, which includes Katie Behnke, Jay Moynihan, Dawn Kane, John Kestly, Joe Gellings, Jim Leuenberger, Pat Garbelman, Sheila Lohmiller, Carol Ryczak, David Wilhelms, Lynn Hills, Donna Milbauer, Dorothy Erdman, Ed Grys, Robbyn Wnek, Steve Brath, Ray Zimanek and others.

The market received a grant for startup funds, but now the market is operated totally from vendor fees, donations from businesses, and contributions from individuals and families.

“We get as much from individuals and families as we do local businesses,” Langlois said, “so the community is really supporting us.”

Also, local musicians volunteer to perform for two to three hours during the market. Among those who have provided their talents are Dan Palmer, Roger Kellogg, Jim Anker, Cliff Elertson, Becky Phipps, Mike Magee, Pat Schaller, Kelly Sconzert, Sue Franke, Jonathan Pyatskowit, Glen Gilbert, Dick Sarnwick.

Palmer and Kellogg make up Le Jazz Hot and enjoy playing at the market as a way to give back to the community. Palmer said he really likes the market because it’s become a meeting place for the community as well as a place where you can buy great local produce. Kellogg, who teaches band to more than 500 students in the Chicago area, owns Kellogg Campsites in Shawano with his wife, Cheryl. They live in Shawano during the summer and love to perform with Palmer.

Vendors who have supported the market since its inception are very happy with the results. Dan and Erin Hischke, Sweet Grass Farm, Suring, who sell home grown beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey, are among the satisfied participants.

“I must admit,” Erin said, “the first day at the Market was a bit scary because there were eight vendors, and three were selling meat. The first year, we basically paid for our gas.

“Even so, when Dan and I talked about whether to continue with the market the second year, we really felt it would be successful because the people behind it were so upbeat and optimistic.

“Now, after this year, we couldn’t afford to miss it.”

The Hischkes say it’s not just about how much they sell. “It’s also great to see our customers again after several months,” Erin said.

Brad and Lindsay Johnson of rural Shawano were vendors for the first time this year, selling beef and chicken from their farm. They had sold their products through word of mouth, but decided to give the market a try. And they were very satisfied with the results.

“After a few weeks we were getting repeat customers, so that was nice,” Lindsay said. “The traffic was good every week and we plan to participate again next year.”

Lorin and Winnie Preston of Shawano, who have been vendors all three years of the market, enjoy gardening, so the Farmers Market gives them the opportunity to market what they grow.

“We enjoy the challenge of getting fresh and quality vegetables to the market,” Lorin said.

The market’s bylaws allow for up to 20 percent of the vendors to be crafters, which is four to five each week. Becky Phipps, Shawano, who offers stained glass products she and her dad, Donald, make, has been a vendor the past two seasons. She appreciates the help she gets from volunteers and that Shawano has other activities on Saturdays, like its recent Oktoberfest, that complement the market.

“I like the fact that it’s in the downtown area,” she said.

By Leader staff
Article category: