Farmers market blows out of town, ending its fifth season
The Janesville Farmers Market closed Saturday after its fifth season of bringing produce, crafts, baked goods and entertainment to the downtown.
Few braved the cold and wind to see the last offerings of this year’s harvest. Vendors huddled under blankets or in vehicles behind their stands.
Teri Huber, market manager, consoled and accepted consolations from vendors and market-goers who were sad to see summer end. The weather and the end of the market dampened her normally exuberant spirits, but she’s already dreaming of next year.
“Next Mother’s Day weekend we open back up,” she told one woman.
As always, Huber had great things to say about this year’s market. The market introduced monthly cooking contests, cooking demonstrations and kids activities this year and expanded the busker program started last year.
She plans to bring all of it back next year and is thinking about adding a carnival day and Halloween party.
Also new this year was a voucher program from ECHO. Families could get $5 vouchers from ECHO to spend at the market, thanks to donations to the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin.
“That was a huge boost for the community,” Huber said.
Huber hopes to get the market approved for food stamps next year, too, she said.
The market gathered 70 vendors this year, with an average of 40 vendors each week, she said. That’s up a bit from last year.
Kevin and Rebecca Schaefer of Arrowhead Orchards, Beloit, said they noticed some drop-off in customers at the Janesville market this summer, but they blamed it on poor weather. The market was busy on weekends with good weather, they said.
David Hough, a Janesville native who now lives in Boston, suggested that maybe Janesville residents should toughen up.
“In Boston we (the farmers market) go until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving,” he said as he wandered the market during a visit home Saturday. “I thought you people were hardier than that.”
Try telling that to Tony Jay, who sat huddled with his 3-year-old son, Oliver, tucked inside his coat.
Jay sells goat cheese and vegetables from his farm, Misty Meadows Goat Dairy in Monroe.
The goat cheese goes over surprisingly well in Janesville, he said.
“Overall, I think Janesville has some cosmopolitan tastes in food,” he said. “You wouldn’t expect that.”
The produce pickings were slim at Jay’s stand Saturday, but Earl Paulson offered a colorful variety of veggies at his booth. Stacks of orange carrots, red and white radishes and green cabbages attracted market-goers looking for the last bit of fresh produce of the year.
“We plant a lot of things late,” Paulson said. “The radishes we planted around Labor Day.”
Margaret Polglaze, Janesville, was at Paulson’s stand buying carrots, leeks and cabbages. She and her husband come to the market not just for the produce, but also for the socializing, she said.
“We see people we know,” she said. “It’s like a big community gathering.”