FORT WAYNE – Saturday’s Fort Wayne Farmers Market will feature more than 40 vendors and a cooking demonstration by Ivy Tech’s culinary arts program, but it’s what’s planned for next summer and winter that really has organizers excited.
The indoor farmers market, which began in October and is only held the first Saturday of the month, will grow exponentially this summer with four satellite locations, the possibility of have downtown markets twice-a-week plus new arts and crafts markets at three locations.
Next winter, the indoor market downtown – in the Lincoln Financial Event Center at Parkview Field – will go to twice a month and will have longer hours.
It’s been so great and so crazy because we did grow so fast, market coordinator Leigh Rowan said. How do you put brakes on a downhill runaway bus?
The bus took off in October when the first indoor farmers market had 20 vendors and the 6,000 square feet of space in the building between the outfield and the parking garage seemed cavernous. By the second market in November, there were 40 vendors and more on a waiting list.
The February market drew more than 1,200 shoppers.
Rowan, who volunteers her time, said the amazing success of the market has been both a blessing and chaotic.
I tell my friends, You know that one day where I woke up and said I think I’m going to try to start a winter farmers market? I should have pulled the covers over my head and slept it off,’ she said. It’s just swelled.
Rowan is also a vendor – she runs Big Brick House Baker – so market days are especially hectic.
From the beginning, organizers said they did not want to compete with existing markets, so they were not planning to run the market in the summer.
But the demand led to the satellite locations at the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus, Georgetown Square, New Haven and Jefferson Pointe. Organizers are also looking at partnering with an existing market to offer downtown markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer.
The market has tried to keep an 80/20 split between food vendors and those selling arts and crafts items, leading to an even longer waiting list for arts and craft vendors. That spurred the creation of arts and crafts markets at Georgetown Square, New Haven and Jefferson Pointe.
This is kind of nerve-wracking for everybody because it’s never been done, Rowan said.
I can’t even tell you if another town has done something like this because I haven’t had time to find out.