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Archive for Sunday, July 25, 2004

Showers dampen sales at Farmers Market

July 25, 2004

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Soggy weather like Saturday's proves a point that Farmers Market organizers have been trying to make for years.

Fewer than half of the market's 50 or more usual vendors set up booths Saturday morning. Only five customers waded through the rain to hear the opening bell ring. A typical number is 100.

"Weather definitely affects the traffic that flows into the market," said coordinator Emily Miller.

Days like Saturday are why the Farmers Market task force held its first brainstorming session July 17 to find a more permanent, and more sheltered, location.

Organizers want a new location by 2005, which they hope will end the perils of the cramped parking lot designated to them in the 1000 block of Vermont Street.

If produce vendors don't sell their food quickly, it becomes compost, Miller said. Some sell items that must stay dry, such as garlic, flowers and arts and crafts.

The task force consists of Lawrence city commissioners Sue Hack and David Schauner, Miller and other Farmers Market representatives. The group decided to prioritize several criteria for a new location: canopies for shelter, electricity, running water for bathrooms, more visibility, a downtown location and better parking.

Parking isn't just inconvenient in wet weather, Miller said, it's a deterrent.

"If you've got to walk two blocks between your car and the market site in the pouring rain, it's just not as attractive a place to be," she said.

About 2,000 people migrate to the market on dry Saturdays. Dwindling crowds didn't even approach that number Saturday morning.

Vendors will be out again at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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