by Ashton Kirol
This year is the 41st season for the Capital City Farmers’ Market, and there will be some big changes to the market. Our outdoor market will be held at a new location on State Street in downtown Montpelier this year. We trialled this location last fall for three market days, and it was a huge success. State Street will be shut down between Main and Elm Street on market days, which makes for an easily walkable downtown area.
Our regular market lot will be open for parking, which will be a net gain of parking spots compared with what we take up on the street. Last year’s trial markets had a great community feel. There were musicians playing along the street, and shoppers could flow between market vendors and downtown businesses along the street.
Our goal this year is to continue building on this vision of a walkable downtown Montpelier. We are excited to work with the City of Montpelier and groups such as the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition to grow the offering of local food and art downtown. There is also the opportunity to increase the area of a walkable downtown by closing Langdon Street and partnering with arts groups to hold events there during or after market hours. We envision a downtown where people can come down Saturday morning and shop directly from local farms, get a locally sourced breakfast or lunch, and easily walk between market vendors and local shops or art exhibits.
The market itself will offer the same great vendor mix that makes the market such a fun destination for locals and visitors to the area. We feature over 65 full-time and seasonal vendors from Central Vermont that grow or make 100 percent of the products they sell. This includes everything from seasonal produce to small-batch cheese and one-of-a-kind crafts. The majority of our vendors this season are returning vendors, but we do have some new craft and local food vendors that will be at the market part time.
During the trial markets in the fall of 2017 we surveyed hundreds of visitors to the market to see how they felt about the on-street location. Seventy percent said they liked the State Street location better than our usual space. We had a similar percentage of vendors prefer the new location as well. A new location is something that the market has looked at for years, but the right opportunity had not come along. Last year, the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition helped spearhead the idea with the market board, and they helped organize the move with the city. The three trial markets resulted in the best stretch of sales the market has had in the last five years.
The outdoor market begins May 5th, during Montpelier’s May Day festivities. The market is open from 9 am to 1 pm every Saturday from May through October. Our live music series begins May 19 and runs all summer long. People can stay up to date on market vendors, music, and events by following us on Facebook, signing up for our weekly newsletter, or going to montpelierfarmersmarket.com
Ashton Kirol is the manager or the Capital City Farmers’ Market