Vendors pleased with crowds as Farmers’ Market reopens for year on dreary day

photo by: Elvyn Jones

A steady light rain and cool temperatures greeted shoppers Saturday, April 10, 2021, at the season opening of the Downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market. Nonetheless, vendors and organizers were pleased with the turnout.

About an hour before the first Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market of the year wrapped up, Roger Gipson had no products left to offer shoppers on a chilly, rainy Saturday morning.

“We’re sold out,” he said as he stood under the Firefly Farm booth’s awning to escape the light rain. He was running the booth for his son, JT Hamilton Slate, and the lilacs and potted plants from Gipson’s North Lawrence home and Slate’s fields south of Clinton Lake had been quickly snatched up by shoppers on the market’s opening day.

Plenty of shoppers braved the 50-degree temperatures and the steady rain to shop for such things as hoop-house flowers, vegetables, wine and baked goods, as well as to renew friendships forged during past Saturday mornings at the market. About two dozen vendors showed up to sell their wares at the market, located in the parking lots at 824 New Hampshire St.

“I love the Farmers’ Market,” Logan Mantyla said. “It’s so nice to see everyone again.”

Mantyla said she bought bread, falafel and spinach on the market’s opening day.

The falafel came from the Lebanese Flower booth, run by Sam Chahine and his grandson Hamza Chahine. They were having a good day, Hamza said as his grandfather served falafel to the first customer in line at the booth. It was the family’s sixth year at the market, and they were enjoying greeting old friends.

Sophie Tate, who is in her first year as manager of the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, said she was pleased with the number of vendors and shoppers Saturday, but she foresees the market growing in the weeks ahead. There is now room for about 60 vendors in the parking lots, but that could grow if the market can relax its COVID-19 precautions later in the year, she said. Right now, the market’s guidelines, which are based on recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, require one parking lot stall between vendors and limit the number of people congregating at booths.

“We’ll be checking the CDC monthly,” Tate said. “We’ll be excited to review those guidelines to see what we may be able to relax.”

The downtown market will be open from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Saturday until Nov. 20. And Tate said shoppers would soon have a second option available with the Tuesday market, which will be open from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday in South Park starting May 4.


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