Farmers Market Bringing Fresh Food and Fun to Downtown
21 Jun 2019
Farmers markets have become increasingly popular as the demand for locally grown and handcrafted products has risen in recent years. In 1994, there were 2,000 farmers markets across the country. Today, there are more than 8,600.
Elk River has one of the most popular farmers markets in the state. A University of Minnesota study found the market averages an impressive 300-350 visitors per hour.
According to Elk River Recreation Coordinator Karen Wingard, that success is driven by word of mouth. “People have a good experience and tell their friends and family members about the market.”
The Farmers Market is held in downtown Elk River at Park Plaza on Main Street. In 2019, it will take place every Thursday from June 6 through October 3 (except July 4) from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.
The popular event has more than 40 vendors and is at capacity each week. There’s a wide variety of offerings. There will be some new products this year, including mushrooms and maple syrup. A coffee roaster will also participate for the first time in a few years.
Wingard says the market will have more ready to eat foods this year too. There will be a booth selling stuffed homemade pretzels and a South American-style food vendor with items like empanadas and churros. “It’s a great tool for new businesses to gain exposure,” says Wingard.
Market attendees can also find classic indulgences like cheese curds and healthy items like microgreens. A mix of area farms participate, enabling a good variety of produce. “The market provides the best choices of healthy fruit, vegetables, honey and bread that are good quality and good for you,” says Wingard.
Various business sponsors help to fund programming and special events at the market. Each week features live music. On the first Thursday of the month, seniors can receive $3 to spend at the market. A kids program called the “Power of Produce” gives kids a $2 market token to spend on fresh fruits or vegetables.
The market offers programming to teach about topics like public safety and environmental education. The second Thursday of the month caters to kids, with games and activities from organizations like the Elk River Library and the 4-H Club.
The event has been running for more than a decade. It moved to the downtown location about 6 years ago, which has been good for downtown businesses.
“When you come to the market you can discover businesses in downtown that you didn’t know were down there. This helps keep our downtown vibrant and busy,” says Wingard.
In addition, Wingard emphasizes that the market helps bring people together. “I feel it truly is a community gathering spot. You run into a lot of people in that four-hour span and have great interactions, Wingard says. “It also helps keep our community healthy and adds to our quality of life.