Kenbridge looks at future of its farmers market

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Kenbridge Town Council is considering making changes to its farmers market and would like input from the participating farmers. The decision, during the Tuesday, Feb. 15, meeting, to consider changes to the site and the operation of the market came after the town considered applying for a grant to make improvements to the market.

“Council is open to any suggestions anybody might have, or anybody interested in helping out,” Mayor Emory Hodges said.

With spring just around the corner, Hodges said, “We could change the whole venue of this.”

Councilmember Mike Bender said the vendors should get together and make suggestions “instead of us guessing.”

Located near the town offices on East 5th Avenue, the farmers market runs June 13 through Oct. 31 and is open every Saturday — rain or shine — from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., the town’s website notes.

Vendors rent a 10×10 space and pay either $5 per day or $50 per year. They are responsible for providing tables, equipment, shelter and displays for their merchandise, and any signs must pertain to the vendor’s item and must be located within vendor’s space, the website notes.

A Sept. 25th post on the 5th Avenue Market Facebook page encouraged residents to, “Come support your local farmers and pick up some tasty additions for your dinner table, some cool fall decor for your front porch, or some delicious treats to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings! We hope to see you there!”

Town leaders have long had big dreams for the market, and there was once talk about building a pavilion. “It just wasn’t within our reach at the time,” Hodges said.

The market has drawn a small, but dedicated group of vendors.

“It’s not shrinking, but it’s not really growing,” Hodges said.

One of the issues that could be on the table is the location of the market. Suggestions thrown out included relocating the market — maybe uptown in an open lot, or, as Councilmember Cathy Gilley suggested, to a building and the sidewalk in front of it.

“Maybe we can do something that mutually benefits everybody,” Hodges said.

Whatever happens, Councilman Ken Blackburn said it should rest with the vendors.

“It should be managed by the farmers,” Blackburn said. “It’s their business. We’ll let them use whatever space they want to use.”

Councilman Daniel Thompson agreed.

“If it doesn’t cost us anything, why not do it,” he said.