Vancouver Farmers Market calls it a season

Weekend event struggled with some internal issues, but vendors, customer give good reviews

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor



Vancouver Farmers Market

Age: Just completed its 24th season in downtown Vancouver.

Crowds: Averaged 15,000 a day, estimated Executive Director Jordan Boldt.

Vendors: Ranged from 75 to 150.

Music: Entertainment was offered every week.

Dogs: Boldt said the market visitors brought “every breed imaginable.”

Holiday markets: Thanksgiving-themed market happens at Eighth and Esther streets on Nov. 23. Holiday markets happen on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, in conjunction with the Festival of Trees.

Annual meeting: 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Water Resources Education Center.

Florida transplants Ben Churchwell and Lauren Bittner were at the Vancouver Farmers Market on Sunday afternoon as vendors were closing down the 9-month regular season.

"We come almost every weekend," Churchwell, 26, said.

""I like to get produce, the flowers, it's fun," Bittner , 27, added.

The two recently moved to Vancouver's Edgewood Park neighborhood from Fort Myers, Fla. He has a job with an engineering firm as a hydrographer and she is looking for a job in marketing.

Like many, they brought their dog, Ellie, a German shorthaired pointer.

"She's got a lot of energy," Churchwell said of Ellie.

And so, the market closed its 24th season at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Executive Director Jordan Boldt said the market was blessed with mostly good weather but did need to close the last weekend in September because of fierce winds.

And some ill winds also blew among the market's board during the year.

"That was certainly a stressful time for the market, but we are excited to have moved past that," Boldt said. He noted there are four new board members and the board reworked its bylaws. The annual meeting will be held Nov. 21.

Those board issues did not affect vendor Peggy Moore. She makes Peggy's Handmade Chocolates in Orchards and had a booth about every other weekend.

"It's been a very good market this year and the people have been wonderful, both the vendors and the customers," Moore said. She pays $40 a day for her booth and said she will be back next year with her 50 varieties.

"It's a good year," agreed Ker Chang. She runs the Cheng Summer Bloom flower booth that is just off Eighth Street as you wander into the market.

She said Mother's Day is always her best, with sales of $1,500 each weekend day.

She and husband Cheng Vang grow their flowers in Woodburn, Ore. Those beauties include dahlias, lilies, chrysanthemums, daisies and zinnias.

Jason Hoppa, 38, of Sifton seemed to be enjoying the market on Sunday. He had son, Price, 3, on his shoulders, and daughters Emily, 8, and Kayla, 15, flanking him.

"I like all the fresh vegetables that are still here, and the fruit," Hoppa said. "We like the people-watching, too."

Emily likes the play equipment in adjacent Esther Short Park and Kayla said she comes "probably because of the food."

Boldt said he is looking forward to season 25 next year.

The market's biggest challenge this year, he said, was construction on Sixth Street for the waterfront access project.

"This took away a large portion of the area the market traditionally uses and forced us to reconfigure the layout," Boldt said. "While I think we weathered that challenge as well as possible, it certainly did cause some of our vendors to leave the market, and that loss affects our organization for sure."

The market will starts its 2014 season March 15.