By MARGARET DWIGGINS
There’s good news for people who want to fill their dinner plates with local, seasonal produce. This year they’ll have the opportunity to shop at two weekly farmers markets.
The Hancock County Farmers Market will be open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Thursday, beginning today, at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. The Crawford Street Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday on West Crawford Street downtown, beginning June 7.
Each market is sponsored by a different organization and may or may not attract the same vendors. Both will offer a selection of seasonal produce as well as products such as baked goods, honey and jam. The downtown market, which debuted last August, will again be combined with the Art-See-Mart, an arts and crafts fair sponsored by the Gaslight Gallery artists’ cooperative.
The Hancock County Farmers Market is a group comprised of vendors who participated in the Thursday afternoon markets at the fairgrounds when they were sponsored by the Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber announced last July that it would move the weekly market to Crawford Street on Saturdays.
Ann Boyd, owner of My Own Backyard Herbs and Flowers, one of the regular vendors at the Thursday markets, said many of the vendors were disappointed when the chamber decided to move the day and location. Boyd said the vendors felt they had enough loyal customers to continue the Thursday markets, and so they petitioned the Hancock County Agricultural Society, which operates the fairgrounds, to stay.
The vendors formed an organization, named the Hancock County Farmers Market, and elected officers. They are John Charlton, president, John Beagle, treasurer and Boyd, secretary.
Dave Thomas, operations manager of the agricultural society, said the Hancock County fair board has no affiliation with the market, other than renting the space to the Hancock County Farmers Market as it would with any other event.
Maria Reza, Main Street coordinator for the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance, said the Crawford Street Market is sponsored by Downtown Findlay, a program of the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance.
She said the Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the farmers market at the fairgrounds through July of last year, and also the Saturday markets on Crawford Street that were held for just one month last August. Reza said the chamber discontinued its involvement in the Thursday market this year, and passed operation of the Crawford Street Market to the nonprofit Downtown Findlay organization.
She said the hope for the downtown location is to get more people shopping and dining downtown on Saturday morning.
Boyd said the Hancock County Farmers Market will operate as a nonprofit, but does not have tax-exempt status. Any revenues left over after paying the rent will be used to promote the market, she said.
Boyd doesn’t know if any of the fairground vendors will also be participating in the Crawford Street Market. She said some had prior commitments that make them unavailable on Saturdays.
There are about 10 vendors lined up now, but she expects more as the season progresses. She said past vendors have come from around the state and have sold baked goods, homemade soap, honey, maple syrup and jams and jellies in addition to produce.
“I would love to see a knife sharpener,” she said.
Both Boyd and Reza are confident Findlay can support both markets.
Boyd said she finds it a situation of the more the merrier, joking that Findlay has two Wal-Marts, so why not two farmers markets?
“I think they will both be good markets and will attract two different kinds of people,” Reza said.
The Findlay Art League gallery, as well as artists who maintain studios in the Jones Building have been invited to open during the market, hopefully serving as a draw for more visitors, Reza said. She expects 12-18 vendors to begin with, based on participation last August.
Janealla Killebrew, one of the owners of the Gaslight Gallery, said the Art-See-Mart attracts a variety of artists and crafters. In the past, vendors have sold paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics and wearable art as well as clothing, jewelry, scarves, painted furniture and more.
She said she anticipates anywhere from 10-20 art vendors a week, usually local, but “anyone’s welcome,” she said.
The Hancock County Farmers Market will be held every week through Oct. 30, except for July 3, July 31 and Aug. 28. Interested vendors are asked to call 419-422-5594.
The Crawford Street Market will be held every week through Oct. 25. Additional information is available online at www.downtownfindlay.com.
Both markets will be held rain or shine.
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