by Joni Astrup
Planning for the 2019 Elk River Farmers Market is well underway.
The market will be held from 3-7 p.m. Thursdays from June 6 through Oct. 3 in downtown Elk River. About two-thirds of the 41 vendor spaces are full and applications are still being accepted, according to Karen Wingard, farmers market and special events coordinator for the city of Elk River. All produce vendors from last year are coming back in 2019, as are the vendors selling cupcakes, jam, honey, kettle corn, lemonade, hot sauce, cheese, bacon and sausage.
Wingard said they are looking for vendors who sell maple syrup, wild rice, mushrooms, eggs and any ready-to-eat foods.
Meanwhile, the farmers market is looking to expand the Power of Produce program in 2019. Power of Produce provides a $2 token to children that they can spend on any fresh fruits or vegetables of their choice. Wingard said they hope to offer the program every week this year. So far Health Partners and Three Rivers Orthodontics are sponsors; two or three more business sponsors are needed.
Special days will be held again this year at the market as well.
Senior Day will be the first Thursday of the month. It provides each senior with $3 market cash to spend at the market as they choose.
“We just started it last year. That program was really popular,” Wingard said. So far Elk River Senior Living is sponsoring Senior Day; one more sponsor is needed.
Kids Day will be the second Thursday of the month and offer events for children. Elk River Lutheran Church will have a bounce house and activities on the church property at 729 Main St., across the street from the farmers market.
There are still a few openings for musicians interested in performing at the market. State Farm Gleitz Insurance Agency is sponsoring the music again in 2019, Wingard said.
Lastly, a community table is available for free at the farmers market. Each community organization may use the table once per season.
For more information, go to www.elkrivermn.gov/895/Farmers-Market or call Wingard at 763-635-1156.
U of M studies farmers markets
A University of Minnesota study has found that an average of 369 people an hour visited the Elk River Farmers Market in 2018.
The Elk River market was one of 53 studied. Other findings for the Elk River site include:
•Sixty percent of survey respondents said the No. 1 reason for visiting the market was to buy the market products, 27 percent said it was to browse, 10 percent said it was to experience the market and 3 percent said it was to eat there.
•Forty-three percent of respondents spent $11 to $25 at the market, followed by 28 percent who spent $1 to $10, 18 percent who spent $26 to $50 and 2 percent who spent $51 to $100. Ten percent didn’t spend anything.
•Word of mouth was the most significant factor affecting the visit, with 51 percent citing that.
•Did respondents spend money elsewhere before and after the market? Thirty percent said no, but 20 percent spent $1 to $10, 22 percent spent $11 to 25, 18 percent spent $26 to $50, 6 percent spent $51 to $100 and 4 percent spent more than $100.
•Ninety-two percent of people drove to the market, 6 percent walked, 1 percent biked and another 1 percent took public transit.