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Organizers want to bring farmers market downtown

Apr 15, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

A fresh food fair would add a little flair downtown, according to a presentation by business owner Jerry Kintzler and Riverton Outreach Coordinator Sherry Shelley.

Shelley said she wants to rebuild a local food network by having a farmers market once a week in the downtown area of Riverton. The market would reconnect the people who produce fresh food with people who want to buy it.

"I would love to have more people downtown and make it vibrant and energetic," Shelley said during the Riverton City Council meeting April 3.

The proposed farmers market would be once a week, preferably around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, which would overlap downtown open business hours with those on their way home who might need fresh produce for dinner.

"I am asking for a logical place and would like to be able to do it in the city parking lot behind Kusel's furniture store and the Acme Theater," Shelley said. "I realize a lot of people park in that lot, but it would be a logical place in that it wouldn't obstruct Main Street in any way, and it is close enough that people could get there easily and readily."

Kintzler, owner of Jerry's Flowers and Things, said his goal is to pull more people downtown. He said he feels as if the farmers market would draw people to come and spend time on Main Street.

"I think it would be great to have the specific area roped off every Wednesday, and it would be ideal if it got bigger and better," said Kintzler. "What a great thing to bring people downtown, set up for a couple of hours every week, and have an event that would bring the community together."

Shelley helped organize a winter farmers market at Central Wyoming College, which had more than 300 people attend and 30 vendors selling products ranging from fresh eggs, home-baked breads, dried beans, canned jams, grass-fed beef and four greenhouse productions.

"I had a lot of people asking me if we were going to have the food fair every weekend," Shelley said.

Shelley said she hopes to have the downtown farmers market started by May and possibly have tomatoes to sell and extend the season considerably.

"I want to support the other two markets in town at the fairgrounds sponsored by the master gardeners and Vivian Watkins, who has one at the end of North Eighth Street, but offer something for people to be able to purchase fresh foods in the middle of the week," Shelley said. "A lot of farmers have produce they could be selling throughout the week."

Mayor Ron Warpness said he was supportive of the idea and could envision the market growing into a lot more than just produce.

"I know if you don't show up to the farmers market at the fairgrounds right at 8 a.m. you don't get anything," Warpness said.

Councilman Richard Gard suggested the farmers market be located near the east side of City Park, but Shelley and Kintzler said they would prefer to have people coming to the downtown area.

"To be perfectly honest, we really want to pull people downtown," Kintzler said. "We are about to have three empty buildings on Main Street, and we need the support."

Council members said Shelley should return to the council meeting April 17 to be put on the agenda for approval.

"We all like to eat, so this is a real draw for us," Warpness said.