The Union Farmers’ Market’s 2020 season started belatedly Aug. 1 with one vendor stand. Just more than a month later, it’s grown to 15 vendors, with more expected to join.
While the number of stands grew slowly the first several weeks, it took off when two of the vendors approached the city of Union about moving the weekly event to Friday afternoons from Saturday mornings. The first Friday market was held Sept. 4 and drew more than 100 people in its first hour.
The idea for the Friday market came from three of the handful of vendors at August markets, Sam and George Wingbermuehle of Wing’s Things and Tiffany Krausz of Aunt TT’s Soap.
Even Krausz, whose stand sells soap made from goat’s milk, was impressed by the turnout at the market, held in the First Baptist Church parking lot.
“This is awesome,” she said. “We, literally, put this together in four days. It means a lot to us that we had reliable vendors who wanted to help us, with a good variety, as well.”
The market is a “labor of love,” Sam Wingbermuehle said. Some of the vendors came because many indoor markets and craft shows shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“People want to shop local, they just don’t know how,” she said. “Being outside, you can social distance and everything.”
Along with produce, vendors at the farmers’ market sold handmade baskets and bags, woodwork, syrup and other items. For people hungry after the workday, Daddy O’s Cheesesteaks was on hand. While Daddy O’s won’t be able to make it every week, organizers are seeking other food vendors to fill in.
“We had another Friday farmers’ market and had a lot of success with a food vendor,” said Sam Wingbermuehle, whose stand sells items like homemade jam, jelly and salsa.
Assistant City Administrator James Schmieder was pleased with how the first Friday market turned out. The Saturday markets had been seeing two to three vendors.
“It’s been really nice, especially for a season I didn’t think was going to get off the ground,” he said.
The next farmers’ market, scheduled for 3-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, is expected to have at least five additional vendors. Schmieder said the city will continue providing the venue for the market at 801 U.S. Highway 50, as long as vendors want to come. He said the city also will continue with the Saturday markets if vendors want to do it. But people appear to have more availability on Friday evenings.
“I think what we’ve been finding is on Saturdays, there are soccer games, there are other farmers’ markets in the area that are long-term established,” he said at the Friday market. “Tonight, a lot of people are heading out of town or heading to football games and see this as a great place to stop.”
Among the new vendors expected Friday is Pam Scovill, who attended last week’s market to check things out. She said she hasn’t previously been able to sell in Union because she typically is at the Washington Farmers’ Market selling her wreaths, centerpieces and other decorations on Saturday mornings.
“I didn’t know about this place, but I’ll be out here now, every Friday,” she said.
When the market opened for 2020 on Aug. 1, Debbie and Steve Weiler had the only stand. They sold tomatoes, okra, peppers, canned pickles and other items picked from their garden in Leslie. They contacted the city’s community development department about hosting the market, which had taken place in previous years but had yet to happen this year.
The Weilers were still there at the Sept. 4 market, and taken aback by all the company they now have.
“It’s amazing,” Debbie Weiler said. “We were by ourselves, and it blossomed into this. I’m very happy for Union.”
Angela Bahr of Washington, who was checking out the market, was pleased with what she saw. “I like buying local, that and checking out all the stuff.”